For care providers as well as the family members and loved ones of the elderly, it is important to recognize the warning signs of dementia and how to distinguish them from normal changes brought on by the aging process. Dementia is a collection of symptoms that occur due to a variety of diseases. The symptoms include impairment in thought, communication, and memory. There is, unfortunately at the time of this writing, no cure for the disease. The best way we know to combat it is adopting a healthy lifestyle to hopefully prevent it or slow the progression of symptoms.
Memory loss is a common sign of dementia. While it is very common for any of us, not just the elderly, to forget the occasional appointment, meeting, name or date, someone suffering from dementia will forget these things more often than they remember them, or might not even remember them at all when prompted. Additionally, more so than forgetting the name and face of a stranger, dementia sufferers will forget the people close and important to them.
Another common sign is having difficulty with small, simple tasks. Many of us may forget something small in the course of a day, like forgetting to brush our teeth as part of our morning routine, or use a turn signal while changing lanes. Someone with dementia, however, will entirely forget how to do these things. Be sure to follow up on any difficulty you notice performing tasks that seem simple or easy.
From time to time any of us will forget what the correct word we’re looking for is, and end up stumbling through a sentence. With dementia, however, sufferers will craft sentences that make no sense, which are often referred to as a “word salad”, and will also have difficulty in understanding the language used by others.
Every single one of us has, from time to time, spaced out and forgotten where we are, how we got there, why we walked into a room, what we were going to say, etc. But for someone with dementia, this feeling happens constantly, and there may even be difficulties in finding places they should know very well and have been to many times, or they may become unstuck from time and believe they are living in a past part of their life, asking about people or things that are long gone.
Another indication that someone may be suffering dementia is poor judgment. Someone experiencing dementia may make questionable or bizarre choices, such as venturing into the rain without an umbrella or coat, or step outside on a hot sunny day bundled up in a heavy overcoat and boots.
Difficulties with abstract thinking is another warning sign of dementia. While something like calculus is beyond the understanding of just about anyone in life, suffering from dementia may cause someone to entirely forget what numbers even are, how they interact with each other, as well as forgetting things like their age, what year they were born, or any other concepts related numerically.