Dementia is an overall term that describes a set of symptoms of losing cognitive function and behavioral abilities severe enough to interfere with a person’s daily life and activities. Generally, these functions include language skills, memory, problem-solving, the ability to focus, and visual perception. There are people with dementia who cannot control their emotions and have a change of personality. Although dementia generally involves memory loss, the two have different causes. Having memory loss alone does not always mean you have dementia. Dementia is not a specific disease; it is caused when the brain is damaged by several diseases. The most common cause is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 60 to 70 percent of cases.
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Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells or loss of nerve cells. The damage interferes with brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other, which affects thinking behavior, and feelings. There are different levels of severity of dementia, from the mildest stage when it is just starting to disturb a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage when the person depends completely on others for basic daily activities. There is an incorrect belief that serious mental decline is an inevitable part of getting old, which is why many people often overlook its early signs. Yes, dementia is more common in older people, and up to half of all 80 years old may have some form of dementia, but it is not a normal part of aging. Therefore, it is good to learn some warning signs of dementia.
The symptoms vary greatly; especially the early stage and different types of dementia may affect people differently. However, common warning signs of dementia include:
- Memory problems, such as forgetfulness and memory loss
- Increased confusion and finding it difficult to do ordinary daily tasks
- Personality or behavior changes
- Apathy and withdrawal
- Disorientation, such as losing track of time and having difficulty to find their way to a familiar place
- Language problems are when a person forgets simple words and struggles to follow a conversation.
- Reduced concentration.
The early symptoms are usually very subtle, and some people fail to notice them. These symptoms may also develop very gradually and can go unnoticed for a long period of time. Since some of the early signs are not severe enough to be diagnosed as dementia, they’re often named as mild cognitive impairment (MCI). These symptoms will remain the same and stay as MCI or will worsen and become dementia. If you or someone you love is starting to show these warning signs, it is best to go and see a doctor.
Some people may not like the idea of visiting a doctor because they do not realize that there is anything wrong with them, or they tend to be afraid to have their fears confirmed. However, early detection of the signs is important since some cases can be treated, and although there is no cure for dementia yet, a doctor can help you slow the progression and ease the symptoms.