For those concerned about their aging loved ones, the words “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s disease” can be difficult to hear.
And when a parent, spouse, sibling or significant other is dealing with physical, behavioral and emotional changes, it’s easy for information to become confusing.
Here are a few facts to help you help your loved one.
First, dementia is not a disease. It is a term that describes a set of symptoms related to a decline in mental ability ““ troublesome enough to interfere with day-to-day living.
Second, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are not the same. Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia. In fact, it is the most common type of dementia ““ accounting for up to 80 percent of dementia cases.
Third, neither dementia nor Alzheimer’s are a normal part of aging even though they are common in elderly people.
Symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. But two or more of the following mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered dementia:
“¢ Communication and language
“¢ Ability to focus and pay attention
“¢ Reasoning and judgment
“¢ Visual perception
“People with dementia may have problems with short-term memory, keeping track of a purse or wallet, paying bills, planning and preparing meals, remembering appointments or traveling out of the neighborhood,” the association states.
Alzheimer’s is known as a progressive disease in which dementia symptoms gradually become worse through the years. “In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment,” the Alzheimer’s Association notes.
Sadly, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in our nation. Alzheimer’s has no current cure, but treatments are available for symptoms and research is ongoing. While Alzheimer’s treatments are unable to stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can help improve quality of life for those with the disease.
|Signs of Alzheimer's
|Typical age-related changes
|Poor judgment and decision making
|Making a bad decision once in a while
|Inability to manage a budget
|Missing a monthly payment
|Losing track of the date or the season
|Forgetting which day it is and remembering later
|Difficulty having a conversation
|Sometimes forgetting which word to use
|Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them
|Losing things from time to time
If someone close to you is having difficulties with memory or other changes in thinking abilities, please do not ignore them and hope they will get better. Making an appointment with a doctor to determine the cause is the wisest course of action for everyone involved.