How Is Dementia Diagnosed
Diagnosing dementia;is important because you might be able to slow down the process of cognitive decline with certain treatments. Also, if your symptoms stem from physical disease instead of brain disease, you might want to take a completely different route when seeking a remedy.
For example, cataracts or hearing loss can impair your daily function. Some of the symptoms above may stem from fatigue or another medical condition. Being able to address the problem can improve your quality of life in your golden years.
Addressing your symptoms with your primary care physician can help you determine the next steps. Your doctor may refer you to a neurologist. Although there is no definitive test for dementia, doctors can help diagnose the condition using the following:
- Medical history
- Psychiatric evaluation
Difference : The Causes And Precipitating Factors
Since dementia progresses slowly whereas delirium arises suddenly, it makes sense that their causes are different. The specific causes of dementia are yet to be fully identified. But for delirium, medical research has identified the following risk factors: visual and hearing impairment, a high burden of medical conditions, dehydration and dementia. Yes, having dementia increases the risk of developing a delirium episode on top of it.
With or without dementia, delirium occurs only when there are precipitating factors. These include any events that cause a significant level of strain: infections, falls, surgery, hospitalization, or medication errors for example. These specific factors can precipitate delirium, but not dementia because mechanisms that cause dementia unfold over many years.
Symptoms Of Alzheimers Disease
The most common symptoms of Alzheimers disease are associated with memory loss. However, the way that memories are stored and recalled is distinct in people with Alzheimers than other forms of dementia. Patients with this disease usually have strong recollections of deeply seated memories.
However, they have trouble regurgitating information that they learned recently. Thats because Alzheimers changes the regions of the brain that are associated with learning.
Some of the symptoms of Alzheimers disease include:
- Trouble remembering new information
- Confusion about time, places and events
- Suspicions toward loved ones and caregivers
- Difficulty speaking, walking or swallowing
Alzheimers disease presents itself in different stages. Symptoms may vary, and the stages dont always correspond exactly with these, but understanding them may help you identify the condition in yourself or a loved one.
The stages of Alzheimers disease include:
Read Also: Senile Dementia Of The Alzheimer Type
Delirium Vs Dementia: What’s The Difference
When it comes to ensuring that your loved one receives the absolute best in support and services, it’s crucial to understand that cognitive changes, like delirium and dementia, require just as much care as physical conditions, like heart disease and high blood pressure.
Cognitive issues can affect a senior’s ability to think, reason, or remember; and become much more common as we age. In fact, around one-third of seniors who arrive at hospital emergency rooms are found to be suffering an episode of delirium. And 1 in 6 women and 1 in 10 men past the age of 55 will go on to develop dementia.
To best support your loved one, it’s important to know how to identify both delirium and dementia. What are the signs and symptoms? What causes these cognitive issues? And how are these conditions different? Let’s take a closer look at delirium vs. dementia in seniors.
The Difference Between Delirium And Dementia
Dementia and delirium are both health conditions that change a persons ability to think clearly and care for themselves. They do share some similar signs and symptoms. But they have different causes, treatment, and outcomes.
Delirium is seen as a medical emergency that needs to be treated right away. But it can often be mistaken for dementia. In some cases, these conditions can occur at the same time. Learn how the two are different, and what you can do to help a person who has signs of either or both.
Don’t Miss: How Does Dementia Kill You
Differences Between Delirium Dementia Alzheimer’s And Parkinson’s
Your brain doesnt;finish developing;until your mid-to-late 20s. Is it all downhill from there? Neuroscientists are discovering that you can continue to;rewire your brain;to encourage growth and prevent your brain cells from dying, but everyone experiences age-related cognitive decline.
Its often lumped into an umbrella category of mental slowdown that happens as you get older.
However, there are a few different brain diseases that affect aging adults. Heres how to understand the difference between delirium, dementia, Alzheimers and Parkinsons.
Overview Of Delirium And Dementia
, MD, PhD, Department of Neurology, University of Mississippi Medical Center
Delirium and dementia are the most common causes of cognitive impairment, although affective disorders can also disrupt cognition. Delirium and dementia are separate disorders but are sometimes difficult to distinguish. In both, cognition is disordered; however, the following helps distinguish them:
Delirium affects mainly attention.
Dementia affects mainly memory.
Other specific characteristics also help distinguish the two disorders :
Delirium is typically caused by acute illness or drug toxicity and is often reversible.
Dementia is typically caused by anatomic changes in the brain, has slower onset, and is generally irreversible.
Delirium often develops in patients with dementia. Mistaking delirium for dementia in an older patienta common clinical errormust be avoided, particularly when delirium is superimposed on chronic dementia. No laboratory test can definitively establish the cause of cognitive impairment; a thorough history and physical examination as well as knowledge of baseline function are essential.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Difference Between Dementia And Senility
Why The Difference Matters
It is estimated that more than half of all cases of delirium are missed, mistaken for unrelated conditions, or eclipsed by the presence of dementia .
If not acknowledged, a patient could be thought to solely have dementia, and be denied valuable treatment options that could improve the condition.
Much like dementia, delirium can be effectively managed through both pharmaceutical means and behavioral and cognitive techniques. However, since delirium can sometimes be affected by the intake of too many prescription drugs, it is crucial that types and dosages be heavily monitored. If delirium is mistaken for dementia, a patient may be prescribed more medication that can make the onset of delirium more frequent and more intense.
What Is The Difference Between Delirium And Dementia
If mild forgetfulness is considered a normal part of getting oldermisplacing keys, not remembering certain words, forgetting nameswhen is memory loss a concern?
Signs that point to more serious memory problems include difficulty performing everyday tasks such as driving or getting dressed, repeatedly asking the same questions, getting lost in familiar places, and confusion about people, places or time.
These symptoms are associated with dementia, a broad term given to the brains decline in memory and thinking skills. Dementia is a progressive condition, wherein symptoms worsen over a period of time. There are many types of dementia, but the most common is Alzheimers disease.
Delirium, on the other hand, comes on more suddenly and is often related to an adverse reaction to medication, an infection or electrolyte imbalances. Examples of delirium symptoms include sudden confusion, difficulty speaking, personality changes and the inability to focus on one idea or task.;
A person experiencing memory-related problems, especially if symptoms are new or sudden, should be evaluated by a primary care provider. A thorough and careful medical history is the most important step to determine the cause.;
Telling Dementia Depression And Delirium Apart
If a doctor is trying to distinguish between dementia, delirium and depression in your loved one, you may be able to help. They may rely on your observations of their symptoms and behaviours.
There are some distinct features of the three conditions that can help you to try and work out what the problem might be if you are worried about a loved one.
- A person with depression will not have their memory affected as badly as a person with dementia. Their thoughts will probably be more consistently negative, with feelings of low self-esteem and helplessness.
- In general, delirium mainly affects a persons attention, while dementia mainly affects their memory. A person with delirium will be more severely confused, and may be particularly agitated or lethargic, sometimes in a way that changes very quickly.
- Another thing to look for is how quickly symptoms have appeared. Symptoms of dementia tend to come on very gradually. With depression they will come on more rapidly, typically over a number of weeks or months. With delirium they can be even more sudden: a matter of hours or days.
- With delirium, symptoms are generally worse at night, when the person may be particularly confused or disoriented, or experience paranoia or hallucinations.
If the doctor thinks it may be delirium or depression, theyll usually try to treat for these first before assessing or treating dementia.
The Difference Between Dementia And Delirium
More than five million people in the U.S. are living with dementia. It affects attention, memory, and judgement. However, in the hospital dementia is commonly misdiagnosed as delirium. A mistake that can delay treatment to slow the progression of the disease. There are ways you can distinguish between dementia and delirium and get the help your loved one needs.
More than seven million hospitalized patients in the U.S. will experience some form of delirium every year. Forty-five percent of those patients will have persistent delirium at discharge and 26 percent will experience delirium three months after being in the hospital. When delirium lasts that long, could it be something else?
Barbar Kahn, MD, Critical Care Physician, Regenstrief Institute at Indiana University says, It is sometimes very difficult to differentiate between delirium and dementia because sometimes they are superimposed on each other.
Since cognition impairment is present in both conditions, how can you spot the difference?
The main difference between delirium and dementia is delirium develops acutely and it tends to fluctuate. So the patient could be fine at one moment and very soon they can be fluctuating, continued Dr. Kahn.
Dementia is a chronic condition. Delirium is short lived and mainly affects attention, while dementia mainly affects memory. And the most important distinction between the two conditions is that delirium is reversible, while dementia is not.
Don’t Miss: Does Alzheimer’s Run In Families
Providing Support For Cognitive Issues
As a loved one or caregiver, you can make all the difference by noticing any changes in your loved one’s thinking, reasoning, or behavior. If your loved one’s memory and judgment seem to be deteriorating over time, then it might indicate the progressive cognitive decline associated with dementia. In these cases, it’s important to know when to seek professional care for your loved one.
If, however, your loved one experiences a sudden onset of confusion at home, in the hospital, or after surgery; then it’s important to alert emergency medical professionals right away. Want to learn more about how to help your loved one remain safe and healthy? Please don’t hesitate to contact us today.
How Is Delirium Treated
The doctor may request blood and urine tests and will be able to decide on appropriate treatment. They may also want to review any medication that could be contributing to the delirium.
There is also evidence that delirium can be prevented by targeting potential causes. You can mitigate against some of the causes of the confusion, like constipation, dehydration and infection, by ensuring the person stays well hydrated, observes hand hygiene and follows any advice theyre given about wound care and medical devices . If possible, you should also avoid the person moving beds or wards in hospital.
Don’t Miss: Moving A Parent To Memory Care
Delirium In The Elderly
Delirium means “sudden confusion,” and reflects a serious disturbance in thought, mood, and behavior. All of the sudden, your loved one may no longer behave like themselves; and you may not immediately recognize the cause. Some common signs that indicate an episode of delirium include:;
- Mood changes: Anger, agitation, anxiety, depression, suspicion, and fear are all common in delirium
- Changes in speech: Your loved one may have slurred speech or suddenly start saying things that make no sense
- Sleep changes: Seniors may become more active at night or sleepy during the day
- Disorientation and confusion:;A senior might not know where they are or what they are doing
- Visual hallucinations: Your loved one may report seeing things that aren’t there
- Physical issues: They may report incontinence, chills, fever, or pain
If these signs and symptoms come about over the course of a few days or hours, then it’s important to seek medical treatment immediately.
What Is Treatment And Support For Delirium
Delirium is treated first by addressing the medical problem that have caused it. For example, if the person has low blood oxygen or low blood sugar levels these will be corrected quickly. If the person has an infection they may be given antibiotics. If they are in pain, constipated or not passing urine then these will be treated.;Doctors will also review the persons medication and stop any non-essential drugs that may be linked to delirium. Staff will make sure the person is supported to eat and drink regularly.Delirium will usually improve if its cause is found and treated.A supportive and calm environment can also help someone recover from delirium. Nursing staff, and visiting family and friends, can all help by:;
Doctors wont normally give someone medication to treat delirium, because there is very little evidence that drugs help. Drugs should be considered only if the persons behaviour poses a risk of harm to themselves or others, or if hallucinations or delusions are causing the person severe distress.;In either case a doctor may try a low dose of a sedative or an antipsychotic for a few days.
You May Like: How To Move A Parent With Dementia To Assisted Living
The Differences Between Delirium And Dementia
Delirium, or a sudden onset of confusion or cognitive impairment, frequently occurs in individuals with dementia, but experiencing delirium is not the same thing as having dementia. Dementia can be defined as a more progressive decline in cognitive abilities due to gradual dysfunction or a loss of brain cells, most commonly caused by Alzheimers disease. So, what are three differences between dementia and delirium?
About Our Health Information
At Bupa we produce a wealth of free health information for you and your family. This is because we believe that trustworthy information is essential in helping you make better decisions about your health and wellbeing.
Also Check: Difference Between Senility And Dementia
Difference Between Delirium And Dementia
In biology, everything is related to the human body. Biology focuses not only on the systems of the human body but also on keeping these systems active and alive. The human body is cumulative of many other inbuilt systems like the immune system, the respiratory system, intestines, etc. The alignment of these systems altogether forms the human body. We are often asked to keep ourselves fit by eating the right amount of food and exercising on a daily basis. Such activities help our mental and physical bodies to be healthy.
So, today we will discuss about mental health. We have heard many ailments related to the mind like clinical depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, dissociative identity disorder, paranoia, etc. Apart from these ailments, let us discuss two of the most common disorders, i.e., delirium and dementia.
Understanding The Difference Between Dementia Vs Delirium Symptoms
As your senior loved one ages, you may begin noticing subtle shifts in their health or behavior, especially when those changes result in some form of cognitive impairment. What happens, though, when the cognitive impairment or confusion appears quite suddenly and without warning? Does this mean your loved one has dementia? Not necessarily. This may be a case of what is known as delirium. While both deal with confusion and cognitive impairment, dementia and delirium are two different things. So, what are delirium symptoms, and how can you differentiate symptoms of delirium from dementia? And what is the difference between dementia, delirium and Alzheimers? Read on to find out!
Recommended Reading: Does Meredith Have Alzheimer’s
How Is Delirium Diagnosed
No laboratory test can diagnose delirium. Doctors should get a detailed medical history to identify the condition. However, if a patient is experiencing delirium, they may have trouble providing this information. Getting friends and family involved may be the key to diagnosing and treating this issue.
If your loved one has recently experienced mood, physical or mental changes, delirium could be the problem. The likelihood is even higher for people who fall in the high-risk category.
As an external observer, take notes about whats going on. Telling a doctor that your friend or parent is confused isnt as helpful as explaining what they were confused about, when they experienced confusion and what they said or did.
Doctors often use the Confusion Assessment Method to observe whether the patient can think, speak and move normally. They may also do laboratory tests to detect an underlying disease. Delirium is often a symptom of another medical condition, such as:
- Organic brain syndrome
- Certain infectious diseases