Alzheimer's Disease

Recognizing the Signs of Dementia

When you hear the word ‘Dementia’, you might associate it with memory loss.  Yet the disease is much more than that.  Dementia is defined by the Gale Dictionary of Medicine as “…a loss of mental ability severe enough to interfere with normal activities of daily living, lasting more than six months, not present since birth, and not associated with a loss or alteration of consciousness.”

Mental ability declines naturally with age but when memory impairment starts to interfere with at least two activities of daily living (such as Bathing, Dressing, Toileting, Eating or Continence), it is considered dementia. Below are some common signs of dementia.

  1. Memory changes – Changes are often subtle and tend to involve short-term memory.  For instance, when a person can’t remember where they put things, how to work appliances or what they ate for breakfast.   But they remember events that took place years ago.
  2. Problems with words in speaking and writing – People with dementia struggle to communicate their thoughts.  They may have trouble following a conversation, finding the right word for something, or may repeat themselves.  They may also have trouble following story lines, especially in group settings or on a television show.
  3. Mood changes – People with dementia can become confused or depressed.  They may have personality changes, such as a shift from being shy to becoming outgoing. This symptom is common when their routine is disrupted.  They may become fearful or anxious as a result of these changes.
  4. Withdrawal from activities – A person with dementia could lose interest in hobbies or activities they once enjoyed.  They may seem emotionally flat and not want to spend time with family or friends.
  5. Confusion with time or place – People with dementia may lose track of time, not remember where they are or how they got there, or not recognize familiar faces.  Daily routine becomes anything but routine.
  6. A failing sense of direction – As dementia advances, seniors may lose their spatial orientation.  They are unable to recognize familiar landmarks, or might have difficulty judging distances. This can cause serious problems when driving.
  7. Misplacing things  – A person with dementia may put things in unusual places.  A problem arises when they are unable to retrace their steps to find that item.  They may accuse others of stealing because they can’t find their belongings.
  8. Poor judgement – People with dementia may be unable to make appropriate decisions, like what to wear when it’s cold outside.  Or they may use poor judgement, like giving large amounts of money to telemarketers.
  9. Difficulty completing activities of daily living – While early symptoms may include difficulty completing complex tasks such as ability to balance a checkbook or drive to a familiar location, these struggles may advance to interfere with more simple tasks such as getting dressed, or meal preparation, etc.
Each one of these symptoms alone is not indicative of dementia. Rather, it is the severity of the problem and the combination of these symptoms that may indicate the presence of the disease.
If you suspect someone you love to have dementia, make an appointment with your doctor for a check-up.

Caregivers at Inspired Care Home Health are trained to watch for these signs in their clients and notify family members. Inspired Care Home Health has helped many families in their struggle to care for their loved ones with dementia. Contact us today at 847-787-7572 to find out how you can get some peace of mind and respite while still being the main care provider for your loved one.