According to the Alzheimer's Association, "Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life." They also explain that "Dementia is not a specific disease. It's an overall term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common dementia type. But there are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia, including some that are reversible, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies."
In order to be diagnosed with dementia, at least two of the following symptoms have to be present and significant enough that they interfere with everyday living. If you notice your loved one is experiencing more than one of these symptoms, and/or you're questioning whether or not your loved one needs help, don't hesitate to consult with a physician. Below are the common signs of dementia:
Communication and Language - An early symptom of dementia is having trouble communicating thoughts. You may notice your loved one having trouble finishing sentences, repeating themselves or not able to find the right words.
Focus - Another classic symptom of dementia is losing the ability to pay attention. If you notice that your loved one has trouble focusing on the subject of your conversation or loses concentration easily and often, this can be a symptom of dementia.
Memory - Many of us know that, as we age, our memories aren't as sharp as they once were. Differentiating this normal effect of aging with a symptom of dementia can be difficult. What's important to remember is one of the signs of dementia is when someone has problems with their short-term memory, such as forgetting where they put their house keys, having a difficult time remembering what day it is, or having difficulty paying bills.
Reasoning and Judgment - If your loved one shows signs of struggling with their reasoning or problem-solving skills, you may want to pay close attention to make sure this isn't a sign of dementia. This might include them making decisions without considering their safety or having trouble multi-tasking.
Visual Perception - Is your loved one showing signs of vision difficulties? Those who have dementia may experience problems with their visual perception such as having double vision, having difficulty seeing a contrast in colors (e.g., black and white), being unable to explain what they are looking at and not detecting movement as clearly as before.
After reading through the symptoms, do you suspect your loved one might be showing signs of dementia? If so, contact your physician so they can provide a professional opinion and diagnosis. Also, feel free to read our other dementia-related articles, including Dementia Care Tips for the Family Caregiver and 8 Tips for Communicating with Your Loved One with Dementia.
If you have questions about the dementia-related care options we offer at Concordia, feel free to contact us any time via our online contact form or by calling our administrative headquarters at 724-352-1571. You can also visit the Memory Care page of our website for details. For information on other services we offer, such as Long-Term Nursing Care, In-Home Care, Adult Day Services, and Hospice Care, visit the care levels & services page of our website.