It is normal to forget things every once in a while. Even at a young age, we often tend to forget names, where we put the car keys or set the alarm to wake up on time the next day. Unfortunately, occasional forgetfulness can become serious as a person ages. Forgetting how to use the telephone, facing difficulties in managing money, and even having trouble finding the way back home can be tell-tale signs of dementia.
Most of us are concerned about our parents’ well-being as they get old. Creaky knees, wrinkled skin, and blurry vision are a normal part of aging. But, it is a myth that memory loss is a natural part of aging. It’s not.
In fact, excessive forgetfulness can be a sign of Alzheimer’s and dementia, and shouldn’t be ignored. If you have a parent or a loved one who is often forgetting important things and is having trouble with day-to-day activities, then consider taking some time out to observe their behavioral patterns.
To help you out, here is some more information about the condition along with the signs and symptoms to watch out for.
What is dementia?
Dementia is not a specific disease. It is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of symptoms that cause cognitive functions to weaken, resulting in trouble with daily activities. Memory loss is the main symptom of dementia, and this is why those with the condition are often seen in a daze, are full of confusion, and are often unable to tackle daily problems.
Dementia affects more than 47.5 million worldwide while 7.7 million new cases are reported every year. There are many myths about dementia, the worst being ‘you can’t do anything about it’. It’s true that the condition is untreatable, but exercising, eating a good diet and spending time with loved ones can improve the patient’s quality of life to a great extent.
But before seeking help, one has to be aware of the signs and symptoms of dementia, which are as follows:
8 Dementia Behaviors to Keep Track Of
As mentioned earlier, memory loss is one of the most common and major symptoms of dementia. Forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information again and again, or failing to recall where they left an item are just some examples of memory loss.
In fact, an individual with dementia might remember the events that took place years ago but not what she had for breakfast.
Trouble with words
People with dementia often have trouble communicating. They may pause while talking and say they have no idea what the conversation was about or may repeat their thoughts continuously. They may also struggle with vocabulary where they might face difficulty in finding the right words for common expressions and objects.
Changes in moods
Mood and personality changes are also common in those with dementia. They can become confused, depressed, withdrawn, fearful, and even suspicious for no reason. They can also become easily upset at home, work, or any place where they feel out of their comfort zone.
A person with dementia may often put things in unusual places and be unable to retrace their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may even accuse others of stealing them. The habit may be occasional during the early stages of the condition, but increases overtime, becoming a serious issue.
Although we all make some poor decisions over the course of our lives, those with dementia will constantly show signs of poor judgment and decision making. For example, they may lose their sense of dealing with money wisely and hence become victims to scam artists or over spend unnecessarily.
Those with dementia will show poor hygiene habits. This includes forgetting to brush their teeth, taking a bath, and even changing clothes. Eventually, the habit becomes more than an unpleasant issue as it can have medical consequences as well.
A person with dementia may start withdrawing themselves from their favorite hobby, social gathering, and/or even professional commitments. They may have trouble keeping up with their favorite team or avoid going to public gatherings because of the changes they are experiencing.
Struggle with change
For someone in the early stages of dementia –change can be frightening. Out of the blue, they are unable to remember faces and events, and become confused. They can’t remember why they went to a certain place or forget their way back home – all this can naturally be overwhelming and accepting the change becomes harder.
Because of this, they might crave routine and will have difficulty going to new places.
What to do if you see these signs in your parent?
Being forgetful and experiencing memory loss doesn’t necessarily point towards dementia. However, these signs should not be ignored either.
Detecting the problem early on can improve the chances of living a healthier and longer life. Thus, if you were to see these signs in your parent and are worried that they may be struggling with an issue – don’t hesitate to talk to a doctor.
Chances are that your parent might not be interested in talking to the doctor and are more likely to ignore your concern. Physical outburst can also be expected when trying to talk to a person with dementia. Remember, there is no harm in consulting a doctor and that there are many ways you can do so without upsetting your parent.
Some approaches to try that will allow you to get to the base of the problem without disturbing your parent are:
- Examine their behavior objectively
- Make sure there are no other medical reasons for their behavior
- Encourage your parent to take an online sage test via BrainTest for dementia which assesses how well your brain is working
- Talk to the doctor alone without letting your parent know
- Spend more time with them
- Talk to other individuals going through a similar situation on various dementia forums online to seek knowledge, take help, and share experiences
- Make sure you take extra care of your parents by feeding them, helping them stay clean, and making them take their medicines on time
Remember, you are not alone. There are millions of people like you who are concerned about their parents’ mental behavior and are doing everything possible to improve their quality of life. With appropriate treatment and early diagnosis, you too can help your parents live a better life and even reduce the symptoms through medication, therapy, and cognitive training.
Kamil Riaz is a writer and inbound marketer. He has completed his masters in Administrative Science from the University of Karachi. As a writer, he has written numerous articles on management, technology, lifestyle and health. You can find Kamil on LinkedIn & Twitter