Everyone's experience with dementia is different. While your parent or loved one may struggle with general memory loss, someone else may not be displaying issues with memory, but struggle more with loss of general reasoning. In simpler terms, the impact dementia has on any one person - and their loved ones - is completely unique.
How can it be so different? Well, dementia is actually an umbrella term covering a cluster of symptoms that are the result of another disease, so this means there are many types of dementia. And, although there are over 50 different diseases that can cause dementia, Alzheimer's is the most prevalent. In our JEA Senior Living communities, aside from Alzheimer's, the diseases we see most often Vascular dementia, Lewy Bodies Disease, Frontal-temporal Dementia and Parkinson's related dementia.
4 Key Symptoms of Dementia include:
Memory Loss - There is a difference between normal forgetfulness that comes with aging and when dementia is the culprit. You'll want to watch for moments when these memory problems are interfering with everyday life. When a person can’t use notes or reminders to keep appointments or to remember that company is coming that day, or if they aren't able to retrace their steps in order to find something they've lost etc.
Loss of Judgment / Reasoning - One of the earliest signs of a change in judgment usually has to do with spending habits or vast changes in how a person typically manages their budget. Someone who has always been very thrifty and cautious with their money may fall into a telemarketer's trap and use their credit card to order a fancy vacation. And, in these moments when you say to yourself "Has he lost his mind?!?!"... please know, you are not alone. ;)
Loss of Cognition & Critical Thinking – Making basic decisions regarding daily life can become challenging. For example, if there is an issue with an appliance in the house, thinking through the logical process of determining whether it needs to be replaced or if calling a repairman would be sufficient. Dementia creeps in to disrupt that flow of thought and create chaos and frustration for everyone.
Changes in Communication or Language - People with dementia often times have difficulty explaining something being able to follow and engage in a storyline. This can result in much longer conversations as they search to find the right words as they pull together sentences.
These are just the most common symptoms of dementia your loved one may exhibit, but there are many more. After reading the examples above, it's easy to see how daily life with a loved one in early stages of dementia can change dramatically. In future posts, we'll talk more about ways you can adapt to this "new normal" while still sharing Meaningful Moments together. In the meanwhile...