What Is Dementia?
We often joke about old people and their vagueness. However while at times it may be amusing especially within our own families, it is often a sign of more serious dementia. So what exactly is dementia? This article explores the condition of dementia in detail enabling you to detect it in an elderly loved one.
It is worth noting before we explore dementia, that Alzheimer’s disease is the commonest of several brain illnesses. Dementia refers to the general degenerative brain diseases that affect the elderly.
The overall symptoms of dementia are memory loss, misplacing things frequently, forgetting names or getting them mixed up. There are a lot more than this so lets look at each of the above and more symptoms which might indicate you or a loved one has dementia of some kind. Of course it goes without saying that always get the opinion of a qualified doctor to confirm any suspicions.
Now that we know what is Dementia, let’s take a look at the early symptoms of this brain disorder.
Symptoms Of Dementia
#1. Change in concept of time
Short-term and Long-term memory capacity changes. Often they find it harder to remember more recent short-time events than they do longer-term events. This explains why when the elderly person starts getting dementia they reminisce a lot on old time events in their life.
However when it comes to something they did only that afternoon they forget, distort what happened or somehow get it mixed up with other longer term-events. This concept of blurring what is recent and another time or situation, even a dream is called confabulation.
#2. Difficulty completing tasks entirely
This is partly due to the person’s increased forgetfulness and memory lapses. They forget in a sense where they are and add to this their confusion of time perception. They are unaware if a task is complete or not.
#3. Lack of understanding of money
Many Alzheimer’s patients will revert to former currencies or think that items cost less than they actually do. They gradually lose track of everyday practical reality.
#4. Difficulty in making decisions
They find it difficult to make decisions and get overwhelmed with too much information in the process. Related to this is a loss in the ability to plan anything.
#5. Confusion with names, words and writing of same
It is like a haze in their former ability to understand words, names of people and communicate. It is most noticeable in people who were great communicators prior to dementia.
#6. Loss in ability to solve everyday and more complex problems
This often is demonstrated by the person being frustrated in not being able to work out the most simple of challenges. They will often display frustration as life gets harder to manage. Everyday challenges pose a major stress to them.
#7. Withdrawal from society
Due to all of the above symptoms, people suffering from dementia gradually withdraw from social and regular activities. They often find that it is too much stress and too embarrassing to mask the symptoms. So staying at home in the safety of their own home environment is easier.
#8. Sudden mood changes
While the person may have been moody, the new symptoms of dementia will make these more pronounced. Usually loved ones and close friends will be aware of any existing moods, so any additional mood changes will be noticed.
#9. Losing the ability to retrace their everyday steps
Even routes they have taken for a long period of time will seem unknown. Once again this relates to them being able to remember more distant memories than more recent, short-term events or memories.
#10. Observable deterioration of motor skills
Activities such as walking, driving, doing basic household chores will become extremely difficult.
Now that we have looked at 10 signs of dementia lets look at how you can avoid this yourself or how you can help a loved one fight mental dementia.
Ways To Delay Dementia
The first is diet. Eat lots of antioxidants, these can be drunk in juices including green juices which can have ginkgo biloba for mental agility. Other healthy mind foods include fish, seafood, grains and vitamin B.
It goes without saying that drinking alcohol, smoking of any kind and illegal drugs are all potential inducers of dementia, including early dementia. Minimal smoking and drinking are the key to maintaining optimal brain functioning.
Drinking lots of water to be hydrated is also very good not just for body cells but also for optimal functioning of brain cells well into old age.
#2. Crosswords and similar type puzzles
Yes that is right, doing that crossword after lunch or with a morning cuppa may do more for anyone’s health than pass the time. For an elderly person, especially not working it could be key to keeping any dementia at bay.
#3. Social Interaction
Maintain a relatively large social group of friends and stay in contact with relatives. Scientists have discovered the larger and closer knit an elderly person’s social group is, less likely they will develop dementia.
#4. Adequate Sleep
Maintain regular 7-8 hours of good sleep a night to keep brain cells refreshed and healthy.
#5. Reduce Stress
Learn how to manage stress since as with all diseases, lack of stress management increases the chance of dementia, especially if it is genetic and runs in the family anyway.
#6. Physical Exercise
Finally it is a good idea to accept we do all ultimately age. You and I and our loved ones will inevitable get vaguer over time as we mature and age. That is to be accepted and embraced with humor instead of denial!
However by making some changes to diet, lifestyle and habits now we can delay or even prevent any serious mental ailment altogether. Some people live until 100 plus with no dementia whatsoever. Many will admit this is primarily due to a healthy diet, a rounded perspective on life and family support.