The symptoms of dementia involve difficulty with most areas of mental function. They affect language, memory, all cognitive skills (judgement, calculation, abstract thought), perception, emotions, behavior and personality. The earliest sign of dementia is usually forgetfulness.
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Mild Cognitive Impairment is the stage between common forgetfulness caused by aging and dementia. Not everyone with MCI will develop dementia. People with MCI have mild problems with memory and thought that do not interfere with day to day activities. They are usually quite aware of their forgetfulness.
The symptoms of Mild Cognitive Impairment may include:
- Forgetting conversations and recent events
- Difficulties with multi-tasking
- Taking longer periods of time to perform more challenging mental activities
- Difficulty making decisions or solving problems
The early symptoms of Dementia can include:
- Difficulty performing tasks that require thought that used to come easily, like balancing your accounts, playing games, or learning new things.
- Getting lost in familiar surroundings
- Language problems – forgetting names of familiar objects, trouble finding the right word
- Loss of interest in things once enjoyed
- Misplacing or losing items
- Changes in personality and deterioration of social skills
The Progression of Dementia
As Dementia progresses, symptoms become more obvious and can interfere with the ability to take care of yourself and perform everyday tasks with ease. The symptoms can include:
- Difficulties with speech – using incorrect words, mispronouncing words, speaking in confusing sentences
- Increasing difficulty with reading or writing
- Difficulty with basic tasks, like driving or cooking.
- Forgetting details about the present
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Forgetting events in your own past and losing awareness of who you are
- Experiencing delusions or having hallucinations (visual and auditory)
- Poor judgment and loss of ability to recognize the signs of danger
- Depression and withdrawal from social contact
- Excessive agitation and anxiety
- Uncharacteristic arguments, striking out, and violent behavior.
People with severe Dementia can no longer perform the most basic activities of daily living, like eating, dressing, or bathing. They do not recognize friends and family members or understand language.
Causes of Dementia
Most types of dementia are degenerative and non-reversible – meaning the changes in the brain cannot be stopped or reversed. The speed at which dementia progresses varies from person to person. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Vascular Dementia, which is usually caused by a stroke or a series of small strokes, is the second most common type of dementia. Another common cause is Lewy Body Disease, which strikes the elderly. Lewy Body leads to dementia by causing abnormal protein structures in areas of the brain.
Several other diseases can also lead to non-reversible dementia, including Huntington’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Pick’s disease, Lyme Disease, and HIV/AIDS.
Some causes of dementia may be stopped or reversed if they are discovered early enough. Dementia brought on by brain injury, brain tumors, chronic alcoholism, metabolic issues, and medications are not degenerative in nature and can be prevented from progressing.
Dementia usually occurs in seniors and is rare in people under the age of 60.
The Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the diverse needs of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in the Ottawa area. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed, they have a number of programs that can help you.
Caring for a person with dementia can be overwhelming. Qualicare Ottawa can help. Our educated and experienced caregivers understand the behaviors associated with dementia and can provide safe, personalized, nurse monitored care at home. A well educated, consistent and experienced caregiver can allow a person with dementia to stay at home safely with the dignity they deserve.
Our case managers are highly trained in dementia care. We increase quality of life by encouraging clients to live a normal life for as long as they can. To do this, Qualicare Ottawa finds coping strategies to overcome deficits when they arise, such as finding new activities when old activities can no longer be enjoyed, encouraging clients to do as much for themselves as possible, and giving assistance as needed and praises along the way.
Dementia has a large impact on the whole family. It steals our loved ones a little more each day. We can assist by lessening the impact and helping families cope with this terrible disease.
Read more about Dementia & Alzheimer’s Home Care in Ottawa
Contact us for a free, 1 hour in-home assessment with a Qualicare Ottawa case manager. We’ll answer your questions and help your family plan for the future. If you’re facing behaviours or issues related to dementia (including wandering, agitation, aggression, incontinence and falls) we can offer experienced advice and coping strategies for day to day activities.