What Are The Early Signs Of Dementia
The onset of dementia is not obvious because the early signs can be vague and quite subtle. The early symptoms usually depend on the kind of dementia that one has and therefore can vary greatly from one person to the next.
Even though the signs can vary, there are some that are quite common and they include:
- Depression, apathy, and withdrawal
- Memory issues, especially when it comes to the most recent events
- Inability to handle the everyday tasks
At times, it is easy to miss to appreciate that the above symptoms could be an indication of something that is not right. Yet there are those who assume that the signs are normal and are associated with aging. It is also possible for one to develop the symptoms in a gradual manner and they may go unnoticed for quite some time.
People may not act even when they can tell that something is definitely wrong. It is important to have a checklist of all signs related to dementia and get the person the needed help when several of such signs are observed. It is important to get a more detailed assessment.
Memory loss and dementia: while it is normal to forget some things and remember later, persons with dementia tend to forget more frequently and they do not remember later.
Tasks: distractions can happen and you may forget to, say, serve one part of the family meal. For a person that has dementia, preparing the meal could be problematic and they may actually forget some of the steps that are involved.
What Are The Symptoms Of Early
For most people with early-onset Alzheimer disease, the symptoms closely mirror those of other forms of Alzheimer disease.
Withdrawal from work and social situations
Changes in mood and personality
Severe mood swings and behavior changes
Deepening confusion about time, place, and life events
Suspicions about friends, family, or caregivers
Trouble speaking, swallowing, or walking
Severe memory loss
The 7 Stages Of Dementia
Living with and understanding Dementia stages can be difficult. Here we offer a more clearly defined picture of the whole Dementia journey. What are the signs of Dementia to look out for in a loved one? And if you do spot these signals of Dementia, what actions can you take?
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Sadly There Are No Treatments That Can Stop Dementia Once Someone Has It Or Fix The Problems They Cause In The Brain Once A Person Has Dementia They Will Have It For The Rest Of Their Life
A person with dementia needs support from other people. Most people with dementia live at home, and get support and care from their family, friends or carers. As time goes on, they may need more help and might move into a care home.
Doctors and nurses cannot cure dementia yet, but they can help to make life easier for someone with dementia.
They may suggest activities that help with memory, thinking skills or speaking. They may offer medicines to help with some of the symptoms of dementia.
Doctors and carers will try to help the person with dementia stay healthy, and treat any other illnesses that they get. They can help to support the persons family too.
If you are a young person who helps to care for a family member with dementia, visit the links page to find out where you can get information and support.
Doctors and scientists are working hard to find out more about dementia. By understanding the illnesses that cause it, they hope to find ways to prevent, treat and even cure dementia in the future.
How Many Stages Of Dementia Are There
There are several different types of Dementia, with Alzheimers disease being the most common. Though when it comes to the different stages of Dementia, we can typically categorise the trajectory of the disease as mild, moderate or severe.
Although this three stage model is useful for providing an overview of early, middle and final stages of Dementia, most people prefer a seven stage model that breaks cognitive decline down into seven specific categories. The progression of Dementia will be different for everyone, but knowing where a loved one falls on this scale can help to identify signs and symptoms, whilst also determining the most appropriate care needs. So, what are the 7 stages of Dementia?
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Dementia: Things Will Get Worse If We Do Not Act
In their editorial published in CMAJ, Drs. Stall, Tardif and Sinha presciently highlighted that the $50 million in federal funding over 5 years will likely be inadequate to achieve the stated goals of Canadas first national dementia strategy.1 This has proven true at the front lines of clinical care. As a clinician providing hospital care for people with dementia, I have been unable to detect any meaningful improvements rather, things are getting worse, especially in acute care.
Analyses by the Canadian Institute for Health Information show that when older adults living with dementia are admitted to hospital, they are 50 % more likely to experience hospital harm and have twice the length of stay of people without dementia. Although dementia once accounted for one-third of alternate level of care days, CIHI estimates that this impact has grown and dementia now accounts for almost half of ALC days.2
Dementia has become a major contributor to ALC and hospital overcrowding, which has not received appropriate attention to date. All people in Canada are paying the price for this neglect in the form of decreased access to hospital beds. This will, predictably, hamper postpandemic efforts to address the growing wait lists for elective surgeries.
What Are The Most Common Types Of Dementia
- Alzheimers disease. This is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases. It is caused by specific changes in the brain. The trademark symptom is trouble remembering recent events, such as a conversation that occurred minutes or hours ago, while difficulty remembering more distant memories occurs later in the disease. Other concerns like difficulty with walking or talking or personality changes also come later. Family history is the most important risk factor. Having a first-degree relative with Alzheimers disease increases the risk of developing it by 10 to 30 percent.
- Vascular dementia. About 10 percent of dementia cases are linked to strokes or other issues with blood flow to the brain. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are also risk factors. Symptoms vary depending on the area and size of the brain impacted. The disease progresses in a step-wise fashion, meaning symptoms will suddenly get worse as the individual gets more strokes or mini-strokes.
- Lewy body dementia. In addition to more typical symptoms like memory loss, people with this form of dementia may have movement or balance problems like stiffness or trembling. Many people also experience changes in alertness including daytime sleepiness, confusion or staring spells. They may also have trouble sleeping at night or may experience visual hallucinations .
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Talking With A Doctor
After considering the persons symptoms and ordering screening tests, the doctor may offer a preliminary diagnosis or refer the person to a Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinic, neurologist, geriatrician or psychiatrist.Some people may be resistant to the idea of visiting a doctor. In some cases, people do not realise, or else they deny, that there is anything wrong with them. This can be due to the brain changes of dementia that interfere with the ability to recognise or appreciate the changes occurring. Others have an insight of the changes, but may be afraid of having their fears confirmed.One of the most effective ways to overcome this problem is to find another reason for a visit to the doctor. Perhaps suggest a check-up for a symptom that the person is willing to acknowledge, such as blood pressure, or suggest a review of a long-term condition or medication.Another way is to suggest that it is time for both of you to have a physical check-up. Any expressed anxiety by the person is an excellent opportunity to suggest a visit to the doctor. Be sure to provide a lot of reassurance. A calm, caring attitude at this time can help overcome the person’s very real worries and fears.Sometimes, your friend or family member may refuse to visit the doctor to ask about their symptoms. You can take a number of actions to get support including:
- talking with other carers who may have had to deal with similar situations
- contacting your local Aged Care Assessment Team
How To Test For Dementia
There is no single test that can determine a person is suffering from dementia. The doctor can diagnose different types of dementia such as Alzheimers based on their medical history.
This has to be done very carefully. In addition, the doctor may conduct laboratory tests, physical examinations, and changes in the way the patient thinks.
When all things are considered carefully, a doctor can be able to determine that a person is actually suffering from dementia with certainty. Determining the type of dementia can be hard, especially due to the fact that brain changes and symptoms that are associated with the different types of dementias sometimes overlap.
It is normal for the doctor to give a diagnosis of dementia without really specifying the type. In such a case, it is important for the patient to visit a specialist in this area like a psychologist or neurologist for a more specific diagnosis.
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Check Their Advance Care Plan
You should find out if the person has an advance care plan. This document may record their preferences about the care theyd like to receive, including what they want to happen, what they dont want to happen and who they want to speak on their behalf. It may include an advance statement or an advance decision. We have information on planning ahead for patients and their families, which you might find useful.
Sundowning Treatment & Management Options
Once behavioral changes have been identified as sundowners syndrome, there are steps you can take to both prevent and manage it.
First and foremost, you must be patient. Dementia patients can be difficult if not impossible to reason with, but it is important to set aside frustration and take whatever steps necessary to minimize triggers and symptoms.
Below are some simple tips for how to deal with sundowning:
In addition to these care approaches for sundowning, certain safety precautions can help:
While it is normal for dementia patients to experience sundowning from time to time, you should never ignore serious or dangerous symptoms. Chronic sleep deprivation can worsen symptoms of dementia, so speak to your loved one’s doctor if they are having trouble sleeping. You should also contact your doctor if your loved one’s symptoms become more frequent or severe.
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Isnt Dementia Part Of Normal Aging
No, many older adults live their entire lives without developing dementia. Normal aging may include weakening muscles and bones, stiffening of arteries and vessels, and some age-related memory changes that may show as:
- Occasionally misplacing car keys
- Struggling to find a word but remembering it later
- Forgetting the name of an acquaintance
- Forgetting the most recent events
Normally, knowledge and experiences built over years, old memories, and language would stay intact.
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.
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Can You Die From Dementia
Dementia is usually considered a disorder affecting memory and is associated with aging. In the initial stages, this could be true. Loss of memory is one of the earliest signs of the disease.
However, according to experts, dementia is a fatal brain failure that needs to be taken seriously like other terminal diseases that kill a patient slowly. It is not just an ailment that is associated with the elderly.
Even though the distinction is not really known in the medical field and to the general public, it is something that needs to be considered when one has to be treated at the very end stage of the condition.
It is believed that the fact that people are misinformed and misguided about dementia, the end stage treatment is usually made very aggressive.
The disease progresses quite slowly and the fact that it affects so many people means that it should be taken seriously. Dementia is a collection or a consequence of different diseases like Alzheimers disease, vascular dementia, and Parkinsons disease. In later stages, you can tell the type of dementia that is affecting a certain patient.
The patient can have eating problems, pneumonia, fever, pain, and difficulty breathing, which are all caused by the failure of the brain. In the end, dementia involves so many other parts of the body.
It is important to appreciate that the brain is the engine of our bodies. It controls everything, including metabolism, gastrointestinal tract, the lungs, and even the heart.
How Are Rpds Treated
Treatment depends on the type of RPD that was diagnosed. For example, if the RPD is the result of cancer or a hormone imbalance, treatments that target these specific conditions may help treat the RPD. Unfortunately, for many causes of RPD, there is no cure available. For these cases, however, we can sometimes treat the symptoms, make patients more comfortable and improve their quality of life.
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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
Phases Of The Condition
Some of the features of dementia are commonly classified into three stages or phases. It is important to remember that not all of these features will be present in every person, nor will every person go through every stage. However, it remains a useful description of the general progression of dementia.
- Early Dementia
- Advanced Dementia
Knowing The Stages Of Dementia Helps You Plan
Even if the stages arent exact and symptoms can still be unpredictable, being able to plan ahead is essential.
The truth is that Alzheimers and dementia care is expensive and time-consuming. Being financially prepared for increasing care needs is a necessity.
On an emotional level, having an idea of what symptoms to expect helps you find ways to cope with challenging behaviors.
It also gives you a chance to mentally prepare yourself for the inevitable changes in your older adult.
Stage : Moderate Dementia
Patients in stage 5 need some assistance in order to carry out their daily lives. The main sign for stage 5 dementia is the inability to remember major details such as the name of a close family member or a home address. Patients may become disoriented about the time and place, have trouble making decisions, and forget basic information about themselves, such as a telephone number or address.
While moderate dementia can interfere with basic functioning, patients at this stage do not need assistance with basic functions such as using the bathroom or eating. Patients also still have the ability to remember their own names and generally the names of spouses and children.
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