Dementia is a range of diseases that cause a person to lose their memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments and communicate clearly.
Basically, dementia is a term used to describe the symptoms which occur when brain cells die at a faster rate than they can be repaired or replaced.
People who suffer from dementia usually have difficulty with day-to-day life. They may forget things like where they live, how to cook a meal, what year it is, and other simple tasks. People living with dementia will also struggle with communicating with others as well as recognizing family members and friends. The effects of this disease are devastating for both the patient and those around them.
Forms of Dementia
There are many forms of dementia; however, the most common types include:
- Alzheimer's disease- This form of dementia is the most common form of dementia found in seniors. This disease is progressive, which means that it worsens over time. Alzheimer's disease also results in the death of brain cells.
- Vascular Dementia - this type of dementia occurs after a stroke or some kind of blockage. It is caused by an interruption of oxygen-rich blood to the brain causing its cells to die.
- Dementia with Lewy Bodies - This type of dementia is prevalent and often has no warning signs. It is caused by abnormal microscopic deposits which interfere with brain function.
- Frontotemporal Dementia - It occurs when the frontal and temporal lobes in the brain begin to shrink. The damage will eventually affect behavior, language, and memory.
- Pick's Disease - It is a type of dementia that causes loss of intellectual abilities and changes in personality and behavior.
- HIV-Dementia - This disease attacks the brain cells resulting in personality changes, memory loss, and eventually death.
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease - This type of dementia begins with difficulty in coordination and moves to memory loss, confusion, hallucinations, and finally death.
Signs of Dementia
There are countless signs of dementia; however, the most common ones include:
- Memory Loss - This is one of the first symptoms of dementia. An individual may forget things he or she has done recently, where they placed objects and names of people they know well.
- Confusion about Time - The person who has dementia may have difficulty understanding what day it is or how many weeks until a particular day.
- Problems with Communication - A patient with this disease often has trouble finding words to say, making it difficult to communicate effectively with others. These individuals also have issues following conversations as well as expressing their thoughts.
- Disorientation - People with dementia will often lose track of where they are and even where particular objects are in their homes.
- Personality Changes - A patient suffering from this type of disease may get easily confused, experience mood swings, or become excessively suspicious of others.
- Changes in Sociability - Dementia patients often go from being social individuals to becoming introverts who do not want to be around others.
- Wandering - Patients with dementia have a hard time remembering their address or phone number, making it difficult for them to get back home if they have wandered away. They will also wander off when they are trying to find something that they cannot remember the location of.
- Loss of Initiative- Dementia sufferers can lose interest in activities they once enjoyed immensely, making it a challenge for a caregiver to help them engage in any activity.
Help with Management of Dementia
While there is no cure for dementia, there are ways in which a caregiver can help someone suffering from the disease. The caretaker should:
- Limit their patient's coffee - Caffeine is known to worsen memory loss and confusion in patients with dementia.
- Limit their patient's alcohol intake - Alcohol has been proven to increase aggression, depression and cause confusion in people suffering from this type of disease.
- Help them keep an organized home - These people often lose track of where they put particular objects. This helps if everything has its own place so that they know where things belong and they do not have to search for misplaced articles all day long.
- Get plenty of rest - These patients tend to have difficulty sleeping, so it is essential to help them get as much sleep as possible. This gives the body time to recuperate and heal itself.