Dementia is not a disease. Instead, it is a set of symptoms related to the loss of mental function in areas such as: language, memory, visual and spatial abilities or in judgement. These symptoms accompany certain diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. One in five adults aged 65 years and older will have some form of dementia.
Symptoms of Dementia
The onset of dementia is gradual. Affected people are typically good at covering up gaps in memory, so family members who observe these changes in behavior may attribute it to normal aging. Memory loss that disrupts daily living is not a typical part of aging.
Dementia signs may include:
- Decreased interest in hobbies or activities
- Unwillingness to try new things
- Become upset at failure to complete familiar tasks
- Inability to adapt to change
- Decreased or poor judgement, particularly when handling money
- Blaming others for "stealing" lost items
- Become more forgetful concerning recent events
- Be more likely to repeat stories or lose the thread of their conversation
- Confusion while driving, such as stepping on the gas instead of the brake
It is important to know that not all of these dementia features will be present in every person.
There is exciting news in the field of dementia research. Several medications can help slow the progression of symptoms and can be started in all stages. Combinations of mild medications can ease behaviors related to dementia. Currently, several studies are focusing on lifestyle factors, showing promising results from physical exercise slowing dementia and delaying the onset. Some of these are being led by researchers at KU Medical Center.
Living with Dementia
While the signs and symptoms of dementia can be distressing, there is help for your loved one and for you. At Bridge Haven, we are experts in dementia care and we believe happy and fulfilling relationships are possible despite a dementia diagnosis. Our commitment is to help families and individuals living with dementia, regardless of whether they inquire about residency at Bridge Haven. Please contact Sarah Randolph for any assistance at 785-371-1106 or find more information at mybridgehaven.com