HOW IS DEMENTIA CHARACTERIZED
Dementia is an umbrella term for a decline in different mental abilities and memory functions for aged people. It leads to a reduction in intellectual performance and impairment of functioning in everyday and social life. It is diagnosed if at least two of the following symptoms are present in a person.
- A lack of reasoning and judgment
- An inability to focus on something or pay attention to someone
- Difficulty in communication and language
- Impairment in visual perception
- Memory problems
The most common symptom of dementia is memory deficits, especially short-term memory issues. People with dementia find it difficult to remember activities and facts that took place a week, a day, or even a few hours earlier. Despite being unable to recall recent events, people suffering from dementia have a perfectly preserved memory of past events that took place years ago. These can be memories from the period of youth or even childhood, historical facts or details of an old profession.
Minor memory deficits are common in every elderly person. They are associated with gradually deteriorating brain changes. Anxiety can lead to situations in which the patient finds it difficult to remember events from a few hours ago and also gets their functioning impaired. The person can also become confused about time and space, making it impossible to perform every day activities, such as cooking or shopping. A dementia patient also reduces contact with people from the outside and may not even recognize relatives.
Dementia can lead to other psychological disorders for the patient where they find it difficult to communicate with people or lose the ability to focus. These symptoms, combined with memory loss, help form a clearer picture of dementia in people. Patients can also suffer from emotional issues, such as mood swings, unsteadiness and high irritability. These emotions often come out in fits of anger and aggression or extreme apathy or disdain for others.
IS IT REALLY DEMENTIA?
Dementia is a common disease for the elderly. It is not surprising that other mental disorders and problems are often mistaken for a case of dementia. Depression, for example, has similar symptoms to dementia and is often mistaken for it. Chronic depression is usually manifested in a typical way like appetite or sleep disorders or suicidal attempts by the patient. It is often expressed through mood decline, anxiety, apathy, mental retardation and somatization or chronic pain of unknown cause. While dementia has no cure, a case of depression can be alleviated by treating the underlying causes for it.
Due to incorrect diagnosis, many patients risk losing a chance to cure potentially reversible disorders that only imitate senile dementia. It is best to get the patient checked by a medical professional before signing up with a live-in home care provider.
Dementia usually progresses slowly in patients. Rapidly increasing dementia may suggest changes in the central nervous system, such as hematoma, stroke or bacterial or viral brain diseases. Before diagnosing dementia, it is important to rule out systemic metabolic diseases, such as hypothyroidism, anemia, or deficiency in the copper absorption. While these disorders may have similar symptoms to dementia, they are far more serious in terms of bodily function degradation.
CARE FOR ELDERLY PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA
Medicine has progressed significantly in recent decades and it may be possible to slow down the deterioration caused by dementia. However, we still cannot reverse the effects of existing dementia in patients. There are medicines in the pharmaceutical market today that can slow down the progress of disease or even stop it. Unfortunately, it is not possible to reverse the lost memory functions for patients.
Carers for elderly dementia patients must strictly observe their pharmacological needs. There are also a number of natural methods that promise great effectiveness in improving the patient’s condition. Caring for a person with senile dementia involves ensuring that their household is stable and that the most comfortable living conditions are provided for the client.
A daily, planned schedule of the patient is helpful. Permanent housing conditions and the presence of familiar people in their home allow the senior to develop a kind of mental balance. For clients suffering from memory disorders, it is important to get receipts and items signed and keep useful items in cabinets or drawers so that the patient can find the things they need. Emergency and first aid tools should also be kept in easily accessible places so that the caregivers can provide assistance. These precautionary steps can help the carer avoid rushing about or hurrying the patient.
Any communication with the patient should be adjusted to their ability. This involves the use of simple sentences. The carer may also have to repeat what they are saying and remind the patient about their daily activities many times. It is a good idea to allow the patient to perform tasks as long as possible without breaking their concentration even if they are slower and less accurate than the carer.
Daily memory games play an important role in maintaining the mental capacity of the client. These include counting, verbal games, reading newspapers or books, solving crosswords and discussing current affairs. Every activity that gives pleasure to the patient and stimulates their thought processes is recommended.
Intellectual exercises also include daily movement and stimulation of other senses of the client. Listening to music, tying out their favourite dishes and testing well-known fragrances with the client can help. A comprehensive care of dementia patients with such activities can significantly delay the onset of deeper dementia while improving their quality of life as well.