Dementia is the general term for conditions and diseases characterized by a steep decline in memory, problem-solving, language, and other mental skills that can affect an individual’s ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, which gets worse over time.
The condition occurs when the nerve cells in the brain stop working. Dementia typically occurs in older people but it is not always a part of aging. The natural deterioration of the brain occurs as a person grows older, but such deterioration occurs faster in people with dementia.
Dementia has several early signs. A person is diagnosed to have dementia when he experiences two or more of the symptoms, they being severe enough to interfere with normal living.
The early signs of dementia include:
- Memory loss – This is the most common symptom of the condition. A person with dementia may find it difficult to remember things that he used to know, such as information, dates, and event. It is common for older to people to forget things but they usually recall them later.
- Difficulty performing usual tasks – A person with dementia may no longer perform things that he usually did. Such difficulty of doing familiar things happen both at work and at home.
- Difficulty following instructions or solving problems – A person with dementia may find it difficult to follow instructions that he easily did in the past. Solving a simple problem becomes problematic for him.
- Confusion about time and place – A person with dementia may find it difficult to recall what happened in the past or what he plans to do in the future. He may not recognize the place where is at a given moment or where he is going.
- Difficulty writing or speaking – A person with dementia will find it difficult to talk to another person. He has the tendency to forget what he is saying or understand what the other people are saying. His speech, grammar, and punctuation may suffer also.
- Difficulty understanding visual information – A person with dementia may find it hard to read, recognize colors, and judge distances. If the person still drives, he may find the activity too challenging.
- Poor judgment – A person with dementia may no longer have the concept of what is right and what is wrong. He may buy things that he does not need or he may pay too much for something that is worthless.
- Misplace things – A person with dementia may find it hard to remember where he put his personal stuff such as keys or his wallet.
- Withdrawal from socializing – A person with dementia tends to be a loner. He has no interest in socializing with people both at work or at home.
- Changes in personality – It is common for a person with dementia to experience mood swings. Depression, irritability, and fearfulness are common characteristics.
If a person is experiencing some of these symptoms, family members or friends should take him to a medical professional for an assessment.