The Signs of Dementia

Dementia is best described as a loss of intellectual or cognitive (thinking) functions within the human brain. Those who suffer dementia are, quite frequently, confused and easily irritated. They may not be able to recognize their family members of friends, they become lost, even in surroundings should be familiar to them, and they gradually lose the skills, which they need, in order to live independently.

The first signs of dementia tend to be very subtle and are hard to differentiate from normal signs of aging. The most ordinary of these is the characteristic loss of memory, which so many associate with Alzheimer‘s disease and dementia. In the initial stages of this disease, it may be barely recognizable; the occasional slip of a name, getting directions twisted around, forgetting how to spell something - just little inconveniences that didn’t harm anyone. As the disease progresses, however, the signs become far more evident.

During the secondary stages of dementia, the forgetfulness the patient suffered previously has become something intense enough so as to it interferes with day-to-day life. The patient may very well forget familiar faces of family and loved ones. Surroundings may, at times, seem strange and upsetting, and people who attempting to help are regarded with fear, anger and paranoia. Step by step, their life becomes a prison and those that love them become strange, unwilling jailers.

Along with the obvious forgetting of faces, it suddenly becomes increasingly difficult for the one suffering from dementia to perform easy tasks. Simple steps are suddenly forgotten or items misplaced, like car keys being stored in a bag of flour or the patient forgetting to put lunchmeat on their sandwich and just eating two pieces of bread with mustard in between them. Surroundings frequently warp, with the victim easily able to lose themselves even with home just around the corner, regardless of how many times they’ve taken the exact same route.

Patients suffering from dementia also tend to make very poor judgment calls; reality seeming to warp, they easily fall victim to scam artists or will donate their entire savings to televangelists or to help starving children. Slipping further into the dementia, their memories fall away, leaving them in a world of strangers that want them to do things that they cannot comprehend. Intermingled with the fear and anger is a deep-seated paranoia and resentment. 

As the disease worsens, the dementia patients slowly begin to lose their ability to communicate and perform necessary tasks. Speech is often garbled or interjected with nonsensical words. Sometimes they cannot put to words their desires, and this causes a growing frustration.  Tasks such as brushing hair or teeth, proper dressing, bathing, etc. soon become secondary. The patient often overlooking them and becoming more and more listless as the days go by. By the time that they enter the final stages of the disease, most dementia patients tend to be unable to perform simple tasks on their own, such as feeding themselves, using the restroom or bathing.

During the final stages of dementia, patients are incapable of looking after themselves and rather many of them have lost the ability to do simple tasks, such as using the bathroom. Depression is common, as they find themselves immersed into a sea of strangers and even stranger surroundings, and many patients tend to be aggressive and anxious, due to this reason. Others still will lapse into periods where they suffer from a distinct lack of initiative and/or a vegetative state. Slowly but surely, the dementia patients continue to lose even the most ordinary of skills, forgetting how to talk, how to walk, how to swallow.

Symptoms and signs of dementia can vary significantly, dependant on what form of dementia the patient is suffering from, the degree the patient is affected by their disease, and the health and condition of the person, prior to their developing dementia. While early diagnosis is difficult to determine, there are distinct differences, which can be used to determine whether or not a patient is suffering from dementia and early discovery is the best avenue for treatment. If you or a loved one are suspected of suffering from one of the many forms of dementia, do not waste time but make an appointment to see your doctor immediately; the earlier that you seek assistance and treatment, the better your chance of treatment and establishing a reliable and supportive group to assist you or your loved one.


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