Understanding Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease
Dealing with Dementia and the progression of Alzheimer's disease through its three stages is often a daunting and distressing task. Most often relatives feel isolated and without help as if they were to be left alone, having no help to deal with the "unknown". They are also afraid of having to watch their loved ones become more and more distant, potentially losing a horrible battle with this disease. In order to help with this fear of the "unknown" you need to first understand Dementia, Alzheimer's disease and the three stages that accompany Alzheimer's. Let us first talk about what dementia actually means. Dementia is the name for a group of diseases that affect normal, routine activity of the brain. It's a progressive brain dysfunction which starts by first affecting them by losing their ability to carry out normal, everyday activities and in most cases leads to long term care. These changes in the brain are slow and typically lead to memory loss and confusion, often affecting elderly people's personalities and behaviors. Being able to identify the early indicators of dementia is very important when wanting fast and adequate treatment. The following are some of the indicators of dementia: 1.) A majority of people are forgetful, forgetting names, appointments, meetings, where they were going, etc. When forgetfulness starts effecting more then just oneself, (i.e., at work) it seems to happen more frequent and inexplicable states of confusion are clear; this would be a flag for a decline in memory function. 2.) Throughout the day and week people are busy and can become absent-minded, forgetting about feeding the cat/dog, forget about the pot on the stove. When individuals start to have difficulties with familiar activities, (i.e., feeding pets, feeding self, family), not only could they forget about the pot on the stove or feeding the cat/dog, they don't even know that they're the ones cooking or that they have any animals. 3.) Language problems become apparent with dementia patients. Individuals tend to forget commonly used words and use inappropriate fill-in words which make understanding the sentence or conversation very difficult. 4.) A lot of sufferers have problems with spatial and temporal orientation. Forgetting the day of the week or their location are the most common ones. When this occurs, people with Dementia disease don't know how they got there and can not get back to where they came from, their familiar surroundings. 5.) Impaired capacity of judgment is another indicator. Some examples can be wearing a bathrobe to the grocery store, maybe a heavy jacket or wearing several layers of different blouses on a hot summer day. 6.) Abstract thinking is an everyday problem for dementia patients. Just recognizing the numbers is difficult enough, so when needing to calculate or manipulate numbers it becomes even more challenging. 7.) A majority of people tend to forget about common items they use everyday, i.e., misplacing their wallet, losing track of their keys, etc. Elders with dementia place these common items, as well as other items, in inappropriate places, i.e., placing the iron in the fridge or jewelry in the sugar/flour bowl. Unlike the majority of people that easily find these misplaced items over a period of looking for them, (we remember where the items were placed), dementia patients do not remember where they placed anything. 8.) Very sudden mood swings and behavioral changes happen quite often and without apparent causes in dementia patients. We all understand that people have mood changes, but dementia sometimes make them more severe and sudden. 9.) When a person advances in age the average individual's personality changes to some degree. Dementia affected persons, suddenly or over a long period of time, may experience an obvious personality change. For example, someone who is normally friendly or out going become...
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