Introduction to Dementia
Dementia is largely misunderstood. For one, it’s not technically a disease. It’s a syndrome. This means it’s a set of symptoms that commonly develop with old age. Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells, which inhibits their ability to relay messages to each other. This lack of communication between cells in the brain is what causes behavioral changes, memory loss, lack or motor skills, or poor judgement in decision making. There is a well-known correlation between people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and people with dementia. In fact, according to The Alzheimer’s Association, between 60%-80% of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s.
The most common sign that is associated with dementia is memory loss. Your loved one might frequently forget trivial things like when they were supposed to meet their friend for coffee, or more drastic things like the names of their grandchildren. Often times, dementia can be progressive and in these cases something like memory loss issues can become worse over time. It might start out as trivial misplacement of glasses and turn into much more life altering memory problems. It’s important to keep a close eye on the development of memory loss over time. Other indicators of dementia include an inability to communicate, cognitive impairment, and frequently becoming disoriented or lost.
There are lifestyle choices that can be made that correlate with a lower percent chance of having to deal with dementia at later stages of life. Not surprisingly, considering 60%-80% of dementia cases are linked to Alzheimer’s, many of these mirror measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of Alzheimer’s. (If you’re interested in learning more about Alzheimer’s take a look at our past blog post here: http://bit.ly/whattoexpectalz) This list includes eating healthier, staying active, an appropriate amount of sleep, and pursuing social encounters.
It’s important to keep a close eye on the behavioral, cognitive, and emotional development of your loved one as they age. Picking up on early signs of dementia can help in preparing your family and your loved one for what lies ahead. If you have any questions about specifics to your situation, please call 615–595–8982 to speak with a representative of LifeLinks. Our care managers deal with complex syndromes like dementia in real time everyday.