Don’t miss the signs of dementia
Aging can diminish the ability of the brain to store things, making it harder to recall information. Forgetting names or where we placed our keys can be common, but a serious problem may be present if one has trouble remembering how to do things they’ve done many times before, forgets how to get to a place they've been to often, or forgets how to do things that require steps, such as following a recipe.
Common warning signs that a person may be developing dementia include:
- Forgetting things much more often
- Forgetting how to perform basic skills
- Having trouble learning new things
- Repeating phrases or stories in the same conversation
- Having trouble making choices or handling money
- Not being able to keep track of what happens each day
Don’t Ignore the Signs
Dementia can be frustrating for everyone and affects daily living. The person beginning to lose their memory may know something isn’t right and may become isolated or exhibit denial. They may develop behavioral or personality changes and may even refuse to eat or sleep. Friends, family and acquaintances may have a hard time convincing them to take care of basic daily needs or to see a doctor. They may also experience the frustration of hearing repeated stories or accusations of others stealing their possessions.
As difficult as it may be, signs of dementia should not be ignored. Complications of dementia can be serious and can include life-threatening conditions, such as pneumonia, urinary tract infection, pressure ulcers, malnutrition and blood clots.
Types of Dementia
There are three types of dementia:
- In Alzheimer's disease, two structures, plaques (a protein build-up between nerve cells) and tangles (twisted protein fibers that form inside the dying nerve cells), are prime suspects in the search for what damages and kills nerve cells at an abnormal rate. At first, a person with Alzheimer's disease will remember even small details of his or her distant past but not be able to remember recent events or conversations. Over time, the disease affects all parts of the memory.
- Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease with dementia are both associated with Lewy bodies. Lewy bodies are abnormal deposits of protein inside nerve cells that disrupt the brain's normal function. In Lewy body dementia, a person may experience visual hallucinations. In both types of dementia, a person may experience parkinsonism (resting tremor, stiff and slow movements and shuffling walk).
- Vascular dementia is common in people who have diabetes or a history of heart attacks or strokes. Several mini-strokes can be the underlying cause of memory loss.
Help is Available
Our interdisciplinary staff specializes in treating medical problems and other conditions typical in older adults. Our expertise can help you and your loved one in meeting the challenges of dementia. Although dementia is usually progressive, there are options for treatment and management. Our team of geriatric specialists can help by providing:
- A comprehensive review of all of the person’s medical conditions and a discussion of specific recommendations for the patient and caregiver.
- Medication review to see if any of the currently prescribed medications may be causing memory problems, confusion or other side effects.
- An evaluation of memory and overall brain function to determine if further care is needed.
- Psychosocial testing to find out if mental illness, such as depression or alcoholism, may be playing a roll in the memory problem.
- Driving evaluation to decide whether driving is safe for the individual and others.
- Coordination of overall healthcare.
- Home safety evaluation to assess if a person is safe in their current living environment.
- Referral sources that offer medical or therapeutic services that may allow the person with memory problems to remain at home.
You can utilize our office for consultation or choose one of our geriatricians for primary care. Either way, our team is familiar with situations brought on by aging and would be happy to help. To find a physician with The Christ Hospital Center for Health and Aging, call 877-904-4YOU or visit www.TheChristHospital.com.