As we get older, it takes us longer to learn new things and to recall information. Many of us worry that each time we or an elderly loved one struggles to remember a name, a word or an event, that this could be the first sign of Alzheimer’s disease or of dementia.

Dementia is not a normal part of aging. It is an abnormal degeneration of the brain that leads to changes in a person’s ability to think, speak, socialize and take part in normal daily activities. Detecting the disease early, and identifying its specific type, is crucial for providing proper and quality elderly care.

Dementia affects each person in a different way, depending upon the impact of the disease and the person’s personality before becoming ill. The signs and symptoms linked to dementia can be understood in three stages.

Early Stage

This stage of dementia is often overlooked because the onset is gradual. Common symptoms include:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Losing track of time
  • Becoming lost in familiar places

Middle Stage

As dementia progresses to the middle stage, the signs and symptoms become clearer and more restricting. They are:

  • Becoming forgetful of recent events and people’s names
  • Getting lost at home
  • Increased difficulty in communication
  • Needing help with personal care
  • Behavioural changes, including wandering and repeated questioning

Late Stage

This stage is one of near total dependence and inactivity. Memory disturbances are serious and the physical signs and symptoms become more obvious. These include:

  • Become unaware of time and place
  • Difficulty in recognizing relatives and friends
  • Increased need to assisted self-care
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Behavioural changes that may escalate and include aggression

Dementia Vs Alzheimer’s Disease: What’s the difference?

There are many people who confuse Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, often incorrectly clubbing the two together. In fact, Alzheimer’s and dementia are two different diseases, even though they are related to each other. The difference between dementia and Alzheimer's disease is that one is a general category of symptoms, whereas the other is a specific disease that can be diagnosed within that overall category.

Dementia is the general category – it is an umbrella term for several types of disorders that involve life-disrupting cognitive decline. Alzheimer's disease, on the other hand, is a specific illness. It's the most common form of dementia, but many other forms also exist.

To put it simply, a person with Alzheimer's disease definitely has dementia. But a person with dementia doesn't necessarily have Alzheimer's disease.

Treatment, Care and Prevention

There is no treatment currently available to cure dementia or to alter its progressive course. However, numerous new treatments are being investigated in various stages of clinical trials.

However, there are a few things one can do to support and improve the lives of individuals with dementia. These include:

  • Early diagnosis in order to early and optimal management
  • Optimizing physical health, cognition, well-being and activity
  • Identifying and treating accompanying physical illness
  • Detecting and treating challenging behavioural and psychological symptoms

Although age is the strongest known risk factor for dementia, it is not an inevitable consequence of ageing. Further, dementia does not exclusively affect older people – young onset dementia – which is the onset of symptoms before the age of 65 years – accounts for up to 9 per cent of cases. According to studies, dementia can be prevented by following certain guidelines. These are:

  • Regular Exercise
  • Not Smoking
  • Avoiding harmful use of alcohol
  • Controlling weight
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Getting good sleep
  • Maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels

Many conditions are progressive, which means that the signs of dementia start out slowly and gradually get worse. It is an important part of elderly care for caregivers to try and observe such changes in their senior loved one.

If you or someone you know is experiencing memory difficulties or other changes in behaviour or thinking skills, don't ignore them; consult a doctor immediately to determine the cause.


Author's Bio: 

The author of this article is a professional having years of experience in the field of Digital Marketing and currently associated with Proxgy. The author is an expert in writing on virtual travel, online video shopping and Digital marketing topics.