Dementia is a condition with symptoms related to decline in multiple cognitive abilities due to any underlying disease. It’s a term describing symptoms due to various diseases.
Alzheimer’s is one of the commonest type of dementia with almost 60 to 80% of cases of dementia being Alzheimer’s disease.
In dementia, the conscious level of the patient remains normal.
Dementia not only affects the patient but also the ones giving care to him in various ways.
Is Dementia a disease or syndrome?
Dementia is a syndrome.
What is the difference between disease and syndrome?
A disease is a phenomenon in which the symptoms appearing in a patient are directly liked to it, while a syndrome is a condition in which the symptoms are linked to various other diseases underlying the syndrome, which has to be identified in order to treat the patient.
Signs & Symptoms of Dementia
Dementia patients are usually of old age. Their symptoms are usually related to various other diseases, however the symptoms in these patients appear and progress more rapidly as compared to other patients of the same age, which leads to the suspicion that the patient is suffering from dementia or related disorder.
Signs and symptoms of dementia include:
Loss of memory
Slow speed of thinking
Issues with learning new things
Reduced mental agility
Disturbed comprehension and understanding
Reduced capability to make judgments
Caregivers of the patients suffering with dementia or other mental illnesses need to understand the signs and symptoms of dementia in detail so that they can pick the symptoms on time that may lead to better and timely management of these patients.
Various signs of dementia include:
Patient becomes apathetic
The patient may lose interest in the activities he used to do usually. These patients may also suffering emotional disturbances and have difficulty in controlling their emotions.
It’s hard for dementia patients to socialize, which leads to alteration in their behavior and other aspects of personality.
Hallucinations in dementia
Hallucination means seeing or hearing things that other normal people around you can’t see or hear.
Patients suffering with dementia hallucinate and make false claims and statements too occasionally.
Difficulty in planning and organizing stuff
It’s hard for dementia patients to organize or plan things. Dementia affects the mental abilities of a person and they find it hard to maintain independence in making decisions. They often need help from people around them to help them in making a decision.
Patients suffering with dementia find it difficult to execute the tasks that involves planning and requires concentration.
Memory loss in dementia
Memory loss is an important sign in dementia, especially short-term memory loss, however they may still remember the events that occurred long time ago in their earlier life.
Patients suffering with dementia may forget where they placed something or how they reached some place and thus they have no idea how to go back from their came or to go home.
Dementia patients may have difficulty while talking too, as they may forget rather simple words while talking or use incorrect words instead of the ones intended.
These patients may start something and forget about it during the process, and leave it. E.g. they may quit while cooking, etc.
Confusion in dementia
Patients suffering with dementia get confused easily. It’s hard for the patients to do various routine things e.g. using the right words in conversation, remembering where they kept something, getting lost in a previously familiar place, etc. This sort of situation confuses them.
Depression and frustration in dementia
Dementia patients experience depression and frustration when they can’t control various things in their life and even themselves.
The frustration rises when they realize that they can’t control things going around them and with them too.
Signs of triggering depression and frustration in dementia
Caregivers taking care of dementia patients should keep an eye on the triggering factors of depression and frustration so that they can adjust and alter their moods before things go out of control.
Signs of initiation of frustration include:
Difficulty in breathing
Increased alcohol consumption
Lack of patience
It’s important to calm down the person suffering with dementia as soon as the frustration sets in to avoid any unpleasant condition. Calm down the patient by giving him some task or activity immediately. This also gives time to the caretaker to understand the situation and thinking about how to manage it effectively.
Managing dementia patients
Without understand the condition of the patients and what they’re going through, it’s not possible to manage the patients with dementia effectively. Therefore, it’s essential for the caregivers to understand dementia in detail and also know about their patient, understand their limitations and frustrations too.
If your patient is suffering from dementia or is suspecting to have dementia or any other mental illness, it’s important to visit a doctor as soon as possible to get him evaluated and diagnosed so that proper treatment can be started.
Some tips for managing patients with dementia are:
Consult a doctor as soon as you suspect dementia or any other deterioration in someone or yourself
Whenever interacting with a dementia patient, always maintain positive attitude and good mood while maintaining a good sense of humor
Limit the distractions to get patients attention
State things clearly and use simple sentences and words when communicating with dementia patients
Ask clear, simple and answerable questions
Break complex activities and make them a series of simple steps
When something is difficult for the patient, don’t push him or her, instead give a break, reevaluate the strategy you’re using and then try again
Give them love, affection and reassurance, they need it a lot
Talk to them about the past years and the beautiful time they spent in their life including decades ago. Their long-term memories are still intact so remind them of beautiful memories.
Remember, if you suspect any person to be suffering from symptoms related to dementia or any other mental illness, get them evaluated by an expert as soon as possible to find out the exact condition and disease underlying the condition.
Although most underlying causes of dementia can’t be cured, but through early detecting and proper diagnosis they can be managed more efficiently. Early and proper diagnosis helps in maintaining their mental function and possibly slowing down the progress of the disease.