Age and Memory Loss

Understanding Dementia

Below is a video from Alzheimer’s Weekly on dementia which is explained quickly and easily. You can learn new facts and understand dementia better.

 

About Dementia

Age And Memory LossDementia is an illness which affects the brain, causing the brain cells to die at a faster rate than normal. The mental abilities of the person such as memory, language, reasoning, planning, identifying familiar objects, declines with dementia.

Dementia if not treated can impair the ability to carry out daily activities such as bathing, dressing and feeding.

The probability of suffering from dementia increases with age and mostly occurs after the age of 65.

Early stage of dementia can be cured with medication, diets or a change of lifestyle. Other types of dementia are irreversible and cannot be cured.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s begin slowly and worsen steadily as damage to nerve cells spreads throughout the brain. As time goes by, forgetfulness gives way to serious problems with thinking, planning, neglecting personal hygiee, and the ability to perform daily activities like bathing or feeding. Eventually, the person needs total care. Alzheimer’s disease is a terminal illness and there is no known cure for it.

Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia  is the second most common form of dementia and is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain. In vascular dementia, strokes or changes in the brain’s blood supply lead to the death of brain tissue. Symptoms of vascular dementia can vary but usually begin suddenly, depending on where in the brain the strokes occurred and how severe they were. The person’s memory, language, reasoning, and coordination may be affected. Mood and personality changes are common as well.

It’s not possible to reverse damage already caused by a stroke, so it is crucial to get medical care right away if someone has signs of a stroke. It’s also important to take steps to prevent further strokes, which worsen vascular dementia symptoms. Some people may have both Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.

Symptoms of Dementia

Generally there are 3 stages of dementia:

Early stage – Mild dementia

  • Forgetfulness
  • Misplacing things
  • Restless in activities

Middle stage – Moderate dementia

  • Repeating words
  • Poor planning of events
  • Disorientation of place and time
  • Changes in personality
  • Neglecting personal hygiene

Last stage – severe dementia

  • Problem with recent memory
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks
  • Disorientation of place and time
  • Changes in personality
  • Changes in mood or behaviour
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Wandering and getting lost

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you are aware that someone’s behaviour has changed with memory problems, advise him/her to consult a doctor for an assessment and diagnosis. There are many treatments available for memory loss. Help him/her to understand the illness and the recovery path. Caring for people with dementia is challenging and can be exhausting both physically and emotionally. Learn to talk about your problems and get support from other family members as well.

For dementia patients or patients with Alzheimer’s disease, learning as much as you can about your diagnosis is the first step towards empowering yourself to take control of your life and make decisions that will help you live well for as long as possible.