Common Changes In Behaviour
In the middle to later stages of most types of dementia, a person may start to behave differently. This can be distressing for both the person with dementia and those who care for them.
Some common changes in behaviour include:
- repeating the same question or activity over and over again
- restlessness, like pacing up and down, wandering and fidgeting
- night-time waking and sleep disturbance
- following a partner or spouse around everywhere
- loss of self-confidence, which may show as apathy or disinterest in their usual activities
If you’re caring for someone who’s showing these behaviours, it’s important to try to understand why they’re behaving like this, which is not always easy.
You may find it reassuring to remember that these behaviours may be how someone is communicating their feelings. It may help to look at different ways of communicating with someone with dementia.
Sometimes these behaviours are not a dementia symptom. They can be a result of frustration with not being understood or with their environment, which they no longer find familiar but confusing.
How To Spot Early Indicators That Your Loved One May Have Alzheimers Or Dementia
by Patrick J. Kiger, AARP, Updated May 4, 2021| 0
En español | From age 50 on, its not unusual to have occasional trouble finding the right word or remembering where you put things.
But persistent difficulty with memory, cognition and ability to perform everyday tasks might be signs that something more serious is happening to a loved ones brain.
Dementia isnt actually a disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. Its a catch-all term for changes in the brain that cause a loss of functioning that interferes with daily life. Dementia can diminish focus, the ability to pay attention, language skills, problem-solving and visual perception. It also can make it difficult for a person to control his or her emotions and lead to personality changes.
More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s dementia, according to a 2021 report by the Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia, accounting for 60 percent to 70 percent of cases, but a range of brain illnesses can lead to the condition .
Diseases that cause dementia
These conditions are the leading causes of dementia. Many patients have mixed dementia, a combination of two or more types, such as Alzheimers and vascular dementia.
Vascular dementia. The second most common type of dementia is caused from damage to the vessels that supply blood to the brain. It tends to affect focus, organization, problem-solving and speed of thinking more noticeably than memory.
Signs Of Dementia Why Some Dementia Patients Lie
By Darlene Ortiz 9 am on July 6, 2015
Lying is a normal symptom of dementia, and it happens for many reasons. Most of the time, lying is merely a symptom of the disease and not intentional deception. Lying, or untruths, may occur at any stage of dementia, but this symptom generally is more common among seniors with mid- to late-stage dementia and can worsen as the disease progresses. Home Care Lakewoods dementia care experts have put together the following information to help family members better understand why some seniors with dementia lie.
Paranoia Delusion And Hallucinations
Distortions of reality, such as paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations, can be another result of the disease process in dementia. Not everyone with dementia develops these symptoms, but they can make dementia much more difficult to handle.
Lewy body dementia, in particular, increases the likelihood of delusions and hallucinations, although they can occur in all types of dementia.
How To Prevent Dementia And Angerits All About Body Language
And finally, because of all this, we need to become very aware of our nonverbal communications. In my article on mean dementia I explained that reading nonverbal communication is one of our intuitive thinking skills, and so it is something not lost to dementia. We begin learning to read our companions expressions, body language, and intonation at an incredibly young agewithin hours of birth. And we keep those skills in dementia.
Dementia will take away our ability to understand language and eventually the meaning of even the first words we learned as toddlers, but people who are experiencing dementia remain very aware of their companions expressions, body language, and intonation. And without memory skills to distract them with memories of the past, or rational thinking skills to distract them with plans or anticipation of the future, people who are experiencing dementia are entirely presentfully alive in the moment and to whats happening around them.
You May Like: Does Neil Diamond Have Alzheimer’s
Staring With Reduced Gaze And Trouble Reading
Reduced gaze is the clinical term for the dementia symptom that alters peoples ability to move their eyes normally. We all move our eyes and track with them frequently, says Rankin. But people showing early signs of dementia look like theyre staring a lot. Rankin adds that, they try to read and they skip lines. This is one of the signs of dementia that the patient might not completely be aware of, although people around them probably will be.
Discussing Dementia Symptoms With Dr Alex Bailey
In a new episode of the Age Space Podcast, we talk to Dr Alex Bailey, an old age psychiatrist working in Westminster, sharing his thoughts and advice on dementia. This includes identifying the early signs of dementia, details of memory services, supporting those with dementia to live well, psychological therapies, supporting carers and much more. Listen to the dementia explained podcast.
What to read next…
Recommended Reading: Alzheimer’s Awareness Color
Struggling To Adapt To Change
For someone in the early stages of dementia, the experience can cause fear. Suddenly, they cant remember people they know or follow what others are saying. They cant remember why they went to the store, and they get lost on the way home.
Because of this, they might crave routine and be afraid to try new experiences. Difficulty adapting to change is also a typical symptom of early dementia.
Medical Treatment For Dementia
There are no cures for degenerative or irreversible dementias, so medical treatments focus on maximizing the individualâs cognitive and functional abilities. Specific treatments for dementia vary depending on the cause of the dementia. For patients with Alzheimerâs disease and Lewy body disease, for example, medications are available to slow the rate of decline and improve memory function. These medications are known as cholinesterase inhibitors and seem to be effective for some patients. For patients with Alzheimerâs disease, a newer medication, which prevents the buildup of chemicals thought to contribute to memory loss, has also been developed. Treatment for vascular dementia includes controlling risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Additional medications are available to manage other symptoms associated with dementia, including sleep disorders, movement problems, depression, or behavioral symptoms such as irritability or agitation. Because treatments vary depending on the cause of dementia, an accurate diagnosis is critical.
Also Check: What Color Ribbon Is Alzheimer’s
Recognition And Coordination Difficulties
A person showing early signs of dementia may put everyday things in unusual places . They may have difficulty recognising familiar items such as a chair, soap, toothbrush, cutlery, kettle, coffee jar, cooker or fridge.
Signs of a loss of coordination skills can include struggling to undo or do up buttons, to tie or untie shoes and neckties, and to use a hair brush or razor. They may be more subtle, such as putting down a cup of tea too close to the edge of a table or having difficulties lifting a teapot or kettle or using a knife to cut vegetables or fruit.
How To Manage Repeated Questions And Confusion
Asking questions over and over again, as well as not being able to understand why things are happening are symptoms and behaviors that come with dementia, according to the American Psychological Association.
- Communicate with simple, direct language.
- Use photos and other tangible items as props to explain situations.
- Remain calm and supportive.
- Use tools such as alarms, calendars, and to-do lists to help them remember tasks.
- Rely on lengthy explanations and reasoning, as this may further overwhelm your family member.
Read Also: Does Meredith Grey Have Alzheimer’s
Memory Loss Or Dementia
Itâs something we all have to face, but the inevitable changes of aging can still be both humbling and surprising. And while experiencing wrinkling skin, fading hair color, and mild, short-term memory loss is common as we age, severe and rapid memory loss is definitely not a part of normal aging. In fact, many people are able to preserve their brainpower as they get older by staying mentally and physically active and making other healthy lifestyle choices. Distinguishing between normal memory loss and dementia symptoms is not an exact science, although there are some clues to look for.
Symptoms Specific To Picks Disease
- Brain ChangesPickâs Disease specifically affects the frontal lobes of the brain, i.e. the foremost part. Like Alzheimerâs disease, it involves a destructive buildup of proteins, tau proteins in this case. But this form of tau, called Pick bodies, is different from the tangles found in Alzheimerâs. Pickâs disease is also known as the âlanguage variantâ of frontotemporal disorder.
- SignsThis condition usually begins with difficulties with language, especially aphasia, the inability to speak and think of or understand words. Other speech difficulties might include hesitant speech, stuttering, ungrammatical speech, and difficulty articulating words. This impairment distinguishes it from other frontotemporal dementias, in which behavioral symptoms and personality changes are often the first signs. However such symptoms usually develop as the disease progresses. Pickâs Disease is a rare form of dementia, accounting for only one to five percent of all dementia cases, but one that can strike people as young as twenty. Usual onset is between forty and sixty years of age.
You May Like: Alzheimer’s Purple Color Code
The Many Benefits Of Pursuing A Dementia Diagnosis
For your mother, an assessment for cognitive changes means shell be checked for other health problems that might cause personality or thinking changes. After all, its possible that the problems youre observing are not due to dementia.
Its also common for dementia to be exacerbated by additional problems like electrolyte imbalances, medication side-effects, untreated pain, or even constipation which can be treated, even though a disease such as Alzheimers cant be cured. So you really want at least a preliminary clinical dementia evaluation to be completed.
If your mother ultimately is deemed to have dementia, you want that to be in her medical chart. Thats because this diagnosis has implications for how to manage the care of any other health problems she has.
A dementia diagnosis will also make it easier for you to get help as a family caregiver. Difficult behaviors are often managed with medications, but its true that these generally increase fall risk, so they should be avoided. If you are concerned about her behavior, this article will explain the pros and cons of the available medication options: 5 Types of Medication Used to Treat Difficult Dementia Behaviors.
Last but not least, a dementia diagnosis often helps a family focus on planning for further declines in decision-making and independence. This is obviously not easy, but trust me, things tend to go better later if families have done some planning earlier.
Your Superpowerpositive Eye Contact
Eye contact. This is a critical nonverbal communication tool with dementia. Eye contact is your superpower if you spend time with people whore experiencing dementia. You can use it to send instant messages of love, acceptance, gladness, and gratitudeeven when your hands are full and youre at a loss as to what to do next. You can use it to prevent your loved one from sinking into the anger, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings that result in combative or aggressive behaviors.
And the opposite is true, too. If you dont understand that eye contact is more necessary than usual with dementia, you are inadvertently communicating disinterest and lack of caring. People whore experiencing dementia are living in the three-second nowa place that lacks any previous messages of love, acceptance, and appreciation.
So, when you find yourself wondering how your loved one became so mean, angry, and unhappy, remember these tools that you have at your disposal and they do not. Remember that wetheir companionsare able to manage their moods while they are not. And that we can change what we are inadvertently communicating into messages of love and acceptance.
Also Check: Alzheimers Ribbon Color
Disregarding The Law And Other Social Norms
Some people with dementia lose their sense of social norms. Shoplifting breaking into someones house inappropriate interpersonal behaviors, such as sexual comments or actions and even criminal behavior, according to a study published in March 2015 in the journal JAMA Neurology, all make the list of surprising dementia symptoms. This could lead to trouble with the law, too: Early-onset dementia can hit people as early as their thirties and forties, well before anyone around them would consider their out-of-character behavior as a sign of dementia.
Memory Loss And Distortion
People with dementia tend to have problems with short-term memory. They may remember things from long ago but forget what happened this morning. Memory distortions also occur. People with dementia may confuse people in their memories, or combine two or more memories. Sometimes, they think an old memory is a new one. Memory issues are an early sign of dementia.
You May Like: Dementia Ribbon Colour
The Alzheimers Family: Helping Caregivers Cope
New York: WW Norton, 2011
Some verbal aggressiveness should be seen as an almost inevitable part of the illness, and the caregivers primary task is to not take it personally and to not react in kind. More serious verbal aggression and physical aggression are less frequent in persons with Alzheimers disease, but do occur, and need to be taken very seriously.
Aggressive outbursts can be viewed as the result of a number of different factors in someone with dementia:
Loss of judgment and the sense of social appropriateness
Loss of impulse control
Frustration over ones own limitations being taken out on someone else
Frustration over the limitations of autonomy placed on the individual as a result of his or her illness
Depression and/or irritability
Misperceiving someone who is trying to help as someone who is attempting to do harm
Misdirected responses to physical pain or distress
And many others.
Abusiveness, or severe verbal aggressiveness, or any degree of physical aggression towards a person or toward property calls for immediate action.
It is critically important for caregivers to protect their own safety, first and foremost.
Medications for Aggressiveness
It is sometimes possible to lessen aggressiveness with appropriate medications. The use of medications for aggression should depend on a thorough evaluation by a clinician experienced in this area.
Dealing with Agnosias
Where To Get Help
- Your local community health centre
- National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia Tel. 1800 100 500
- Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
- My Aged Care 1800 200 422
- Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
- Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
- Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centres Australian Government Tel. 1800 052 222
- Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers
You May Like: What Color Ribbon Is Alzheimer’s
Memory Loss Related To Emotional Problems
Emotional problems, such as stress, anxiety, or depression, can make a person more forgetful and can be mistaken for dementia. For instance, someone who has recently retired or who is coping with the death of a spouse, relative, or friend may feel sad, lonely, worried, or bored. Trying to deal with these life changes leaves some people feeling confused or forgetful.
The confusion and forgetfulness caused by emotions usually are temporary and go away when the feelings fade. Emotional problems can be eased by supportive friends and family, but if these feelings last for more than 2 weeks, it is important to get help from a doctor or counselor. Treatment may include counseling, medication, or both. Being active and learning new skills can also help a person feel better and improve his or her memory.
Coping With Agitation And Aggression In Alzheimer’s Disease
People with Alzheimers disease may become agitated or aggressive as the disease gets worse. Agitation means that a person is restless or worried. He or she doesnt seem to be able to settle down. Agitation may cause pacing, sleeplessness, or aggression, which is when a person lashes out verbally or tries to hit or hurt someone.
Recommended Reading: What Color Ribbon Is Alzheimer’s
Early Symptoms Of Dementia
Dementia is a collection of symptoms that can occur due to a variety of possible diseases. Dementia symptoms include impairments in thought, communication, and memory.
If you or your loved one is experiencing memory problems, dont immediately conclude that its dementia. A person needs to have at least two types of impairment that significantly interfere with everyday life to receive a dementia diagnosis.
In addition to difficulty remembering, the person may also experience impairments in:
Early Signs Of Dementia And How To Spot Them
Spotting the early signs of Dementia can make all the difference to the progression of the disease. If it is diagnosed during the early stages there is a chance that medication will slow down the diseases that cause the damage to the brain.
Weve put together this guide to the early signs of dementia for you to look out for, and some specific symptoms you can monitor. Please use the links below to navigate the article:
Read Also: Shampoos That Cause Alzheimer’s