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This can be challenging, if not maddening, for caregivers but should be understood, expected and met with compassion. Dementia is a loss of brain function that refers to a group of illnesses. While people will experience dementia differently, most people with dementia share some of the same symptoms that may come and go.
Symptoms may include the following in varying degrees based on how far the disease has progressed:. These wide-ranging symptoms are all memory related since dementia is a degenerative disease that causes a progressive decline in cognitive function including memory, attention span, and problem-solving skills. Some signs of dementia may be caused by physical problems versus mental. Be aware that if these health issues arise for a person already diagnosed with dementia, it can aggravate the condition. Dementia should also not be confused with common symptoms of aging like misplacing the car keys or forgetting what you were going to say.
Again, a healthcare professional should be consulted if these symptoms persist or get worse. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance FCA , a diagnosis of dementia requires a complete medical and neuropsychological evaluation. The full exam allows the doctor to determine whether the patient has dementia and, if so, its severity and causes. From there, the physician can make treatment recommendations and assist the patient and caregivers in planning for the future.
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Dementia can be challenging for both patients and caregivers but knowing what to expect can help ease the journey. Caregivers may not be able to anticipate the level of dementia on a daily basis, but they can be prepared to manage the varying symptoms of dementia as they progress. The different stages of dementia require different degrees of caregiving. People experiencing moderate dementia will likely need more assistance in their daily lives as it becomes harder for them to perform daily activities and self-care.
They may hallucinate, get lost easily and forget where they are, and not remember what day of the week it is. Someone with severe dementia will likely lose their ability to communicate and need full-time daily assistance with tasks such as eating and dressing.
They may not remember their own name or the names of others. Physical activity and ability may be seriously impaired walking, eating, bladder control and they may be more susceptible to infections, such as pneumonia. Regardless of the stage of dementia or how challenging it may be as the symptoms come and go, a person with dementia should be respected and treated as normally as possible while ensuring their health, safety and well-being. The more a caregiver can understand what to expect when a loved one has dementia and to accept the often-wavering levels of behavioral change, the more effective and loving they can be during difficult times.
And finally, as challenging as it may be, try to maintain a sense of humor about the sillier, harmless things that can happen — like putting the milk in the microwave instead of the refrigerator — and not get upset. When it comes to a loved one suffering from dementia, they truly do not understand the error in what they do much of the time. Be kind and gentle. Coping with the early stages of dementia.
How dementia impacts behavior
Good days and bad days in dementia: A qualitative analysis of variability in symptom expression. Day-to-day variations with dementia. Home Care Assistance can help you or a loved one today. Contact us now for your complimentary in-home assessment.
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