Dementia

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People with dementia often have problems with short-term memory

In the past, scientists believed that dementia was a normal part of growing old. It is not. Dementia is a brain disorder. It causes poor memory and/or poor reasoning (Alzheimer’s Association, n.d.). This makes everyday tasks difficult difficult to perform. Dementia may also change how one behaves. There are many causes of dementia. Some types of dementia are curable or reversible such as metabolic and endocrine abnormalities, reaction to medications, and infections (Dementia.org, 2014). The most common causes are brain disorders and head injuries (Alzheimer’s Association, n.d.). Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia (60 to 80% of cases). Dementia is more common in the elderly and usually worsens over time (Alzheimer’s Association, n.d.).

Recognizing Dementia

The symptoms of dementia can be different from person to person. Individuals with dementia commonly have problems with  memory, communication, paying attention, reasoning, judgment, and making sense of what he or she sees (Alzheimer’s Association, n.d.).

People with dementia lose items they frequently use. They may forget to pay bills. They may have problems with planning, preparing meals, and forgetting to go to important appointments (Alzheimer’s Association, n.d.). Dementia is a risk factor for self-neglect.

Did You Know!
1 in 9 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. In fact, one in nine people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease (Alzheimer’s Association, 2016). There are ten warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts the person’s daily life,
  2. Challenges in the ability to plan or solve problems,
  3. Difficulty in completing even familiar tasks,
  4. Confusion with time or place,
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and recognizing objects,
  6. New language problems, especially words in speaking or writing,
  7. Frequent misplacing important items (e.g., car keys, purse) and losing the ability to retrace steps,
  8. Decreased or poor judgment. If the person’s perception of his surrounding is altered, the judgment is also likely to be poor and not based on reality,
  9. Gradual but steady decline in social activities, and
  10. Changes in mood and personality (Alzheimer’s Association, 2016).

Sixty one percent of people 70 years of age and older with Alzheimer’s are expected to die before they reach their 80th birthday (Alzheimer’s Association, 2016). Of people in the same age group but without Alzheimer’s disease, only 30% are expected to die before the age 80. This means that the risk of dying is twice as high (doubles) when the person has Alzheimer’s disease (Alzheimer’s Association, 2016).

Please visit the Alzheimer’s Association for useful resources and information on coping with dementia.

References

Alzheimer’s Association. (March, 2016). Know the 10 signs: Early detection matters. Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/national/documents/tenwarnsigns.pdf

Alzheimer’s Association. (n.d.). What is dementia? Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/what-is-dementia.asp

Dementia.org. (2014). There are dementia symptoms that are treatable. Retrieved from https://www.dementia.org/treatable-reversible-forms-of-dementia


Last updated: by
I. M. Abumaria, AGPCNP-BC
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