Symptoms In The Later Stages Of Dementia
As dementia progresses, memory loss and difficulties with communication often become severe. In the later stages, the person is likely to neglect their own health, and require constant care and attention.
The most common symptoms of advanced dementia include:
- memory problems people may not recognise close family and friends, or remember where they live or where they are
- communication problems some people may eventually lose the ability to speak altogether. Using non-verbal means of communication, such as facial expressions, touch and gestures, can help
- mobility problems many people become less able to move about unaided. Some may eventually become unable to walk and require a wheelchair or be confined to bed
- behavioural problems a significant number of people will develop what are known as “behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia”. These may include increased agitation, depressive symptoms, anxiety, wandering, aggression, or sometimes hallucinations
- bladder incontinence is common in the later stages of dementia, and some people will also experience bowel incontinence
- appetite and weight loss problems are both common in advanced dementia. Many people have trouble eating or swallowing, and this can lead to choking, chest infections and other problems. Alzheimer’s Society has a useful factsheet on eating and drinking
Trouble With Familiar Tasks
Difficulty completing familiar tasks can be an early sign of dementia. This could include challenges with household chores, at work, or during leisure activities.
Watch for your family member struggling to use their cell phone, drive around town, or go shopping. Its normal to downplay these changes as normal aging, but trust your gut if you notice unusual behavior.
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 review published in October 2020 in the journal Cortex, 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 a sign of dementia.
But, says Rankin, Obviously, the majority of people engaging in those behaviors dont have dementia. Its only when a previously law-abiding citizen starts to steal or do other things that are out of character that it becomes a concern for dementia.
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Whats The Difference Between Dementia And Alzheimers Disease
Dementia is a description of the state of a persons mental function and not a specific disease. Dementia is an umbrella category describing mental decline thats severe enough to interfere with daily living.
There are many underlying causes of dementia, including Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons disease. Alzheimers disease is the most common underlying cause of dementia.
Medical West Cares About Your Mental Health
Noticing changes in your cognitive abilities can be concerning, but we are here to offer support. Medical West is dedicated to providing world-class healthcare for your and your loved ones. To schedule an appointment or learn more about dementia and Alzheimer’s care and detection, visit Medical West’s website today. Serving Hueytown, Hoover, Bessemer, McCalla, and Vance, Medical West is here for you from the first visit on!
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Spotting Early Symptoms And Signs Of Alzheimers Disease
People with memory problems may be first to notice that they are confused, have trouble with normal activities, or have other symptoms. Or, family and friends may be the first to notice. In either case, itâs important to know what to look for. Changes in mood or behavior, struggling with familiar activities, difficulty speaking or writing, and changes in vision or perception can be early signs of Alzheimerâs disease.
Symptoms can go on for years. But they can also get worse quickly. It is important to talk to a doctor as soon as you notice them. This can help you and your loved one find out whatâs wrong and make a plan.
What Happens In The Early Stage Of Dementia
Dementia affects everyone differently and early symptoms are often relatively mild and not always easy to notice.
Many people at the early stage of dementia stay largely independent and only need a bit of assistance with daily living. It is important to focus on what the person can do and not to take over and do things for them. Instead, try doing things with them, for example helping the person develop a routine, reminder lists and prompts, and use technology.
For more information for people living with dementia, see the ‘Keeping active and involved‘ page.
The early stage of dementia is when many people choose to make plans for the future, while they still have the ability to do so. This includes making a Lasting power of attorney , and advance decisions and advance statements to ensure their wishes and preferences are made clear.
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Future Directions In Diagnosis Research
Considerable research effort is being put into the development of better tools for accurate and early diagnosis. Research continues to provide new insights that in the future may promote early detection and improved diagnosis of dementia, including:
- Better dementia assessment tests that are suitable for people from diverse educational, social, linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
- New computerised cognitive assessment tests which can improve the delivery of the test and simplify responses.
- Improved screening tools to allow dementia to be more effectively identified and diagnosed by GPs.
- The development of blood and spinal fluid tests to measure Alzheimers related protein levels and determine the risk of Alzheimers disease.
- The use of sophisticated brain imaging techniques and newly developed dyes to directly view abnormal Alzheimers protein deposits in the brain, yielding specific tests for Alzheimers disease.
Dementia & Alzheimer’s Infographic
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< div style=”clear: both “> < a href=”https://keystone.health/early-warning-signs-dementia-alzheimers”> < img src=”https://keystone.health/images/resources/keystone-dementia-infographic.png” alt=”Dementia and Alzheimer’s Infographic” /> < /a> < br /> < br /> < a href=”https://keystone.health/early-warning-signs-dementia-alzheimers”> Early Warning Signs of Dementia & Alzheimer’s< /a> created by < a href=”https://keystone.health/”> Keystone Health< /a> < /div>
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Warning Signs Of Dementia Infographic
Our infographic showing 10 warning signs of dementia.
- Date:02nd June 2017
Every person is unique and dementia effects every individual differently, with no two people experiencing symptoms in exactly the same way.
Symptoms also vary by type of dementia, with Alzheimers disease being the most common type of dementia.
10 of the most common warning signs are shown below and depicted in the infographic:
If these signs are new, they may be a sign of dementia. Dementia is not a part of normal aging. If you think that these problems are affecting your daily life, or the life of someone you know, you should talk to your doctor or seek out more information from your national Alzheimer or dementia association.
Alzheimer’s Or Normal Aging
Just about everyone has minor memory glitches as they get older. If someone forgets a name or why they walked into the kitchen, that doesn’t mean they have Alzheimer’s.
The main problem that defines the disease is trouble planning and handling day-to-day tasks, like paying bills, managing a checkbook, or using familiar appliances around the house.
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Common Forms Of Dementia
There are many different forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form and may contribute to 60-70% of cases. Other major forms include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies , and a group of diseases that contribute to frontotemporal dementia . Dementia may also develop after a stroke or in the context of certain infections such as HIV, harmful use of alcohol, repetitivephysical injuries to the brain or nutritional deficiencies. The boundaries between different forms of dementia are indistinct and mixed forms often co-exist.
What Are The Symptoms Of Dementia
Early symptoms of dementia include:
- Forgetting recent events or information.
- Repeating comments or questions over a very short period.
- Misplacing commonly used items or placing them in unusual spots.
- Not knowing the season, year or month.
- Having difficulty coming up with the right words.
- Experiencing a change in mood, behavior or interests.
Signs that dementia is getting worse include:
- Your ability to remember and make decisions further declines.
- Talking and finding the right words becomes more difficult.
- Daily complex tasks, such as brushing your teeth, making a cup of coffee, working a TV remote, cooking and paying bills become more challenging.
- Lessening of rational thinking and behavior and your ability to problem-solve.
- Sleeping pattern changes.
- Increases or worsening of anxiety, frustration, confusion, agitation, suspiciousness, sadness and/or depression.
- Needing more help with activities of daily living, such as grooming, toileting, bathing and eating.
- Experiencing hallucinations .
These symptoms are general symptoms of dementia. Each person diagnosed with dementia has different symptoms, depending on what area of their brain is damaged. Additional symptoms and/or unique symptoms occur with specific types of dementia.
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Symptoms Specific To Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy bodies has many of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and people with the condition typically also experience:
- periods of being alert or drowsy, or fluctuating levels of confusion
- visual hallucinations
- becoming slower in their physical movements
- repeated falls and fainting
Read more about dementia with Lewy bodies.
Early Symptoms Of Dementia
Although the early signs vary, common early symptoms of dementia include:
- memory problems, particularly remembering recent events
- increasing confusion
- apathy and withdrawal or depression
- loss of ability to do everyday tasks.
Sometimes, people fail to recognise that these symptoms indicate that something is wrong. They may mistakenly assume that such behaviour is a normal part of the ageing process. Symptoms may also develop gradually and go unnoticed for a long time. Also, some people may refuse to act, even when they know something is wrong.
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Conditions With Symptoms Similar To Dementia
Remember that many conditions have symptoms similar to dementia, so it is important not to assume that someone has dementia just because some of the above symptoms are present. Strokes, depression, excessive long-term alcohol consumption, infections, hormonal disorders, nutritional deficiencies and brain tumours can all cause dementia-like symptoms. Many of these conditions can be treated.
Treatment And Management Options
At present there is no cure for Alzheimers disease and no treatment can stop the condition progressing. However, medications can help stabilise or slow the decline in memory and thinking abilities. Drugs may also be prescribed for secondary symptoms such as agitation or depression, or to improve sleep. Non-drug therapies can be beneficial, such as staying active and socially connected, and managing stress.
Talking to a counsellor or psychologist is important to help manage changes in behaviour and mood.
Occupational therapy can help improve everyday functioning at home.
At all stages of Alzheimers disease, treatments and support services are available to reduce the impact of symptoms, to ensure the best possible quality of life for every person living with the condition.
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Five Signs Of Alzheimers And Dementia: Alzheimers And Brain Awareness Month
Dementia is a serious syndrome that may impact the life of you or a loved one tremendously, and should not be mistaken with simple forgetfulness. Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia, and there are many warning signs that can be noticed early on.
While it is crucial for all people to look out for the signs of dementia, minority groups are at the greatest risk of developing Alzheimers or some type of dementia. The Alzheimer Association states that Older African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimers or other forms of dementia as older whites, and Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimers or other dementias as older whites.
In honor of Alzheimer and Brain Awareness Month, were sharing some of the biggest signs to look out for.
1. Memory lossThis is the most common symptom that people identify with Alzheimers and dementia, and it is usually the first warning sign. Memory loss can range from forgetting an event, to forgetting what day it is, to asking the same thing over and over. Memory loss associated with these conditions often affects the persons sense of time and can cause constant confusion. It usually gets worse as the Alzheimers or dementia progresses.
2. Visual impairmentSome people with Alzheimers or dementia have trouble making out shapes and images. They also lack the ability to recognize spatial perception, making it hard to move around on their own.
Does Memory Loss Mean Dementia Is Starting
One common misbelief about memory loss is that it always means you or a loved one has dementia. There are many causes of memory loss. Memory loss alone doesnt necessarily confirm a diagnosis of dementia.
Its also true that some memory changes are normal as a person ages . However, this type of memory loss isnt functionally disabling meaning, it doesnt interfere with daily life.
Dementia interferes with your ability to function. Dementia isnt forgetting where you left your keys. A person with dementia can have situations like forgetting what keys are used for. Dementia isnt a normal part of aging.
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Difficulty Forming The Words To Speak
When people who used to be fluent and could speak smoothly stop being able to produce language that way, this may be a sign of dementia, says Rankin. Despite this symptom, patients are often crystal clear in other areas. They can run a business, manage their family, or draw beautifully, but they have increased difficulty actually forming the words to speak.
Additional reporting by Brian P. Dunleavy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dementia
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Symptoms Of Mild Cognitive Impairment
Some people have a condition called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. It can be an early sign of Alzheimers. But, not everyone with MCI will develop Alzheimers disease. People with MCI can still take care of themselves and do their normal activities. MCI memory problems may include:
- Losing things often
- Forgetting to go to events or appointments
- Having more trouble coming up with words than other people the same age
Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease from MedlinePlus.
Problems With Speaking Or Writing
A person with dementia may find it hard to engage in conversations. They might forget what they are saying or what somebody else has said, and it may be challenging to enter a conversation.
People may also find that their spelling, punctuation, and grammar get worse. Sometimes, a persons handwriting becomes more difficult to understand.
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Challenges With Visual Images And Balance
Dementia not only affects cognitive abilities it affects people physically, too. Early physical signs of dementia include difficulty with balance or judging distances, sleeping issues, forgetting to eat, and wandering. Spilling or dropping items often may be another sign theyre experiencing the physical effects of dementia.
Remember that your loved one might be covering up symptoms of dementia because theyre embarrassed or worried about the changes. So look for signs such as bruising from a fall or a broken drinking glass from the day before.
Current Practice In Diagnosing Dementia
The remainder of this information will provide an overview of the diagnosis process and a guide to what happens after diagnosis.
It is important to remember that there is no definitive test for diagnosing Alzheimers disease or any of the other common causes of dementia. Findings from a variety of sources and tests must be pooled before a diagnosis can be made, and the process can be complex and time consuming. Even then, uncertainty may still remain, and the diagnosis is often conveyed as possible or probable. Despite this uncertainty, a diagnosis is accurate around 90% of the time.
People with significant memory loss without other symptoms of dementia, such as behaviour or personality changes, may be classified as having a Mild Cognitive Impairment . MCI is a relatively new concept and more research is needed to understand the relation between MCI and later development of dementia. However, MCI does not necessarily lead to dementia and regular monitoring of memory and thinking skills is recommended in individuals with this diagnosis.
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