What is Dementia?
Dementia is actually not a disease in and of itself but, rather, a syndrome that is characterized by a collection of symptoms affecting cognition and memory, making it hard to remember, think clearly, and make decisions. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, although it’s important to note that not all people who have been diagnosed with dementia necessarily have Alzheimer’s Disease. Some other types of dementia typically identified are vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontal temporal and mixed dementia.
What Are Some Dementia Symptoms?
All of us have occasional problems recalling a name, accessing an old memory, or remembering where we may have parked our car. But someone living with dementia will exhibit a range of troubling and persistent symptoms that get worse and may include:
- Changes in mood and personality
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Problems speaking or writing
- Confusion with time or place
- Disruptions in daily life due to memory loss
- Difficulty managing everyday tasks
- Repetitive behaviors
If your loved one is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s important to know that it does not necessarily mean a dementia diagnosis; infections and dehydration, vitamin deficiencies, and depression can present many of these signs. However, if any of these symptoms persist or worsen, it’s essential that you consult a physician who can make a diagnosis. It’s also helpful to know that no single test can make a determination; a diagnosis is based on a range of medical tests, creating a baseline, and an individual’s medical history.
How Quickly Does the Disease Progress?
Dementia is a progressive condition — it gets worse over time, not better. For some, the disease progresses rapidly; in others, it takes years to get to the point where outside help is required. The progression depends largely on the underlying cause, whether it be Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body disease, Parkinson’s disease, or some other root condition. While people will experience the stages of dementia differently, most will exhibit some of the symptoms. On average, dementia patients will live four to eight years after their diagnosis, although some live as long as 20 years after being diagnosed.
Does Dementia Only Affect Seniors?
Dementia is more commonly diagnosed in people over 65, but it can affect people in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. The estimated average age of onset of dementia in the U.S. is 83+ years old.
How Can We Help After A Dementia Diagnosis?
If someone has been diagnosed with dementia, it’s important to know there are expert resources available to both you and your family members that can help you navigate the progression of the disease. The sooner you familiarize yourself with them, the better. As Certified Dementia Practitioners, the advisors at Senior Care Authority can help you decide on the right help at the right time, including setting up in-home visits, scheduling respite care, learning important communication skills, and helping you decide on an assisted living situation, should that be warranted. It is so important to remember that you are not alone. We have helped hundreds of families respond to the challenges of a dementia diagnosis, and we can do the same for you, too. To find out more about the symptoms of dementia and how we can help, get in touch with Senior Care Authority today.