Aging is a natural process that we all undergo at one point in our lives. Contrary to what people might think, it is not completely unpleasant. Instead, with the right help, your older years can always be spent in happiness and comfort. However, this does not mean that you are safe from all the dangers it may present – one of the most prominent being dementia.
Some of the symptoms that are commonly associated with aging such as forgetfulness are often attributed to the natural deterioration that comes with advanced years, but it may also be a symptom of dementia.
So if you feel you have dementia, contacting home care services is not enough; you should also learn as much as possible about this disease. Increasing your knowledge about it will help you understand the nature of your illness so that you and your family can cope with its effects in a better way.
Dementia is not a singular disease; instead, it’s a collection of related symptoms. This syndrome is mostly associated with the deterioration of the brain and its capabilities. Although older people have the tendency to develop this disease, it’s not necessarily a direct effect of aging. However, some of its symptoms – like forgetfulness – are common among older people. That is why you have to be careful when you start experiencing bouts of memory loss. There are differences between the memory problems caused by aging and one that is caused by dementia.
Damage in or death of the brain cells are what usually cause dementia. In some instances, the culprit is the development of a neurodegenerative disease or the progressive bereavement of the brain cells over time. This disease is actually one of the most common causes of dementia.
Although neurodegenerative disease is behind most cases of dementia, it’s not the only cause of this disease. This syndrome can also be caused by a number of things such as head injury, brain tumor, and stroke. Either of the three can end up damaging your brain cells. When the cells are damaged, they cannot communicate properly. Your brain cells inability to communicate with each other will affect the way you think, behave, and feel. Each region in your brain is responsible for different functions. When brain cells in a particular region is damaged, that region’s ability to function becomes stilted.
There are also cases wherein dementia is caused by reversible factors such as depression, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid problems, and excessive use of alcohol. If one of the mentioned factors is the reason behind your dementia, then treating or addressing that specific cause will help improve your condition.
This is one of the most common symptoms of dementia. Despite this, you shouldn’t rely on memory loss alone as your indicating factor when determining if you have dementia or not. There are cases when forgetfulness can be attributed to aging and not this severe syndrome. Answer the questions below as truthfully as you can, to help you differentiate which of the two is the true reason behind the gaps in your memory:
Do you often complain about forgetfulness?
If you can remember instances wherein your memory failed you, then your memory loss might be more related to aging than dementia.
Are you constantly looking for the right word?
Forgetting words every now and then is common among older people. However, if you find yourself constantly looking for words and constantly substituting terms because you can’t remember the right one, then your forgetfulness is more related to dementia than aging.
Do you get lost in familiar places?
There are instances when an elderly person has a hard time remembering directions. Although if you only have to pause for a while to recall where to go, then that bout of memory loss is caused by aging more than anything else. If you have a really hard time remembering directions that it takes you a lot of time to get home, then your forgetfulness is caused by dementia.
Does it affect your conversations?
Aging-related memory loss will not affect your ability to remember recent events nor will it affect your conversations. On the other hand, memory loss caused by dementia will lead you to forget recent events and it affects your communication skills.
Difficulty with Complex Tasks
Another symptom of dementia is difficulty dealing with complex tasks. An elderly person sick with this disease will have a hard time performing tasks that are too complicated and has something to do with planning or organizing.
If you find yourself walking in a familiar place and then suddenly becoming disoriented as to where you really are, then that might be a sign that you have dementia.
Dementia can also cause behavioral changes. If you find yourself losing interest in social activities and behaving inappropriately in public, then that is a sign that you might have dementia. Paranoia, agitation, and hallucinations are also symptoms of this disease.
Types of Dementia
This type of dementia is caused by brain cell death due to conditions such as cerebrovascular disease. Basically, there is a limited or no supply at all of blood to the brain. In result, this abnormal blood flow deprives the brain cells of oxygen. Patients with vascular dementia experience apathy, depression, or anxiety. Being emotional and rapid mood swings are also signs of this type of dementia.
Lewy Body Dementia
The Lewy Body dementia is not only common, it is also progressive. In this type of dementia, the cells in your brain’s cortex die while others have abnormal structures. Elderly people with Lewy Body dementia might experience flexed posture and hallucinations.
As its name suggests, this type of dementia affects the frontal and temporal brain lobes. Most of the time, individuals with this type of dementia are 40 years old or older and have a family history of this disease. Frontotemporal dementia’s symptoms include problems with social and judgment behavior, an increased appetite, and compulsive behavior.
Dementia can be a difficult opponent to battle. That is why it is important to contact a professional and alert your loved ones once you start experiencing the symptoms of this disease. Your family’s care and support, as well as a caregiver’s assistance, is essential as you deal with the effects of dementia.