Due to the increasing number of Alzheimer's diagnoses among an aging population, dementia symptoms are often confused with symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. While Alzheimer's disease emerges from damage specific to an overgrowth of proteins within neurons, dementia often occurs because of adverse medical conditions affecting parts of the body other than the brain. Eventually, however, these non-cognitive health problems will begin to affect the brain when blood flow to the brain is continuously inhibited.
Signs of Dementia
Progressive dementia symptoms may include:
- Short term memory loss--difficulty remembering events, words, people's names or how to perform everyday tasks (following recipe instructions, for example)
- Experiencing problems in making decisions or exercising sound judgment, especially if the individual had previously been known as someone who was "good to have around in an emergency".
- Behavioral changes in otherwise agreeable individuals--depression, apathy, agitation and unusual aggressiveness are common symptoms of dementia appearing in the early to middle stages of the disease.
- Neglecting personal hygiene--not bathing for days, consistently wearing the same clothes, refusing to change bed linens, not brushing teeth, etc.
Dementia symptoms can differ according to the type dementia.
Dementia with Lewy bodies has maladaptive protein deposits aggregating in neurons) . This causes people to experience vivid visual hallucinations. They also have confusion, lack of coordination and inability to access long-term memories. Dementia with Lewy bodies is the number one cause of dementia in senior citizens over the age of 70.
Frontotemporal dementia involves the temporal lobe. This is responsible for auditory perception and long-term memory. It contains the hippocampus) and the frontal lobe of the brain. These control higher thought processes of motivation, attention and planning.
Signs of dementia associated with front temporal lobe degeneration are:
- Uninhibited or uncharacteristic behavior changes (saying inappropriate things, exposing themselves or even exhibiting unacceptable sexual behavior)
- An uncaring attitude towards others, especially family members
- Disregard for personal hygiene
- Random obsessions involving eating the same food over and over again or obsessive-compulsive-like behavior
- Inability to understand or recognize names of objects or words
Dementia symptoms caused by strokes block blood flow to the brain. This is vascular dementia. It begins as mild symptoms... such as occasional memory lapses. This progressively worsens. Debilitating confusion and hallucinations increase as blood flow slows to blood vessels. In addition to strokes... vascular dementia is also associated with atherosclerosis, diabetes, high cholesterol, and untreated hypertension.
Medical Conditions Associated with Dementia Symptoms
Huntington’s disease is a genetic disorder... that affects neurons in specific areas of the brain. It often produces dementia symptoms like ... moodiness, hallucinations, unsteady gait, and extreme behavioral changes.
Parkinson’s disease... disturbs a person’s ability to perform tasks involving physical movements. It can also include signs of dementia... such as short-term memory loss, confusion, hallucinations, and depression.
Multiple sclerosis is another disorder that mimics symptoms of dementia. It does this by...
- Affecting a person’s sense of balance
- Impairing their attention and memory
- And the diminishing ability to solve simple problems.
Reversible Dementia Conditions
Some dementia is reversible when caught in its early stages.
Dementia caused by:
- Brain tumors
- Minor brain injuries
- Metabolic changes of calcium, sugar and sodium blood levels
- Endocrine (neurotransmitter) disorders
- Deficiency in vitamin B12
All reversible conditions. When treated, usually reduce most if not all dementia symptoms.
Tests Used to Determine the Presence of Dementia
When a patient exhibits signs of dementia, physicians may administer several tests to determine what sort of dementia it is and if it is dementia rather than Alzheimer's disease. Tests include:
- Imaging scans of the brain to detect tumors or other abnormal growths
- Blood tests to determine if vitamin deficiencies exist, for the presence of chronic infections, the possibility of medication overdose and thyroid disease
- Cerebrospinal fluid analysis
- EEG (electroencephalograph) test that detects whether electrical activity in the brain is normal or abnormal
- Psychological testing for depression, schizophrenia and other psychoses
Late Stage Dementia Symptoms
Individuals suffering from dementia... in the late or final stages need help in their daily activities. They may not recognize... their own home or immediate family members and may also think loved ones who have passed are still alive.
Late-stage dementia patients will need help with dressing and bathing. They often forget the function of an item such as a hairbrush or toothbrush. Sleep patterns are usually disturbed. This creates problems for family members living with a dementia patient..,,Who awakens during the night. Then wanders around the home, unsure of the time of day.
Patients experiencing severe symptoms of dementia will need continuous care. Either with the help of a homecare-nursing agency, or by placing the person in a nursing home. There he or she can receive 24-hour attention.
Patients with irreversible dementia often lose the ability to remain mobile. They must use a wheelchair. Additionally, muscles may become stiff and rigid. This leads to a problem that frequently affects the capacity to swallow. This is when health care providers may want to Implement a of feeding tube.
This is important that you honor your family members wishes.. no life sustaining efforts. It is a time to ask the doctors if there will be an improvement in the patient if nutrition is provided. Will their quality of life be better? Will it help them overcome their dementia?
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