If you provide care for an elderly loved one, it’s important to recognize the signs of dementia versus normal age-related memory loss. Most of us, as we age, forget names from time to time, or why we entered a room. Unlike normal forgetfulness, dementia can be disabling and can impact a person’s everyday performance. Dementia affects one’s ability to perform routine tasks, such as paying bills, taking medication or bathing. Those with dementia may get lost or disoriented, even in familiar places. In order to keep your loved ones safe and provide adequate care, be sure to monitor them for behavioral changes and signs of dementia.
Dementia, unlike Alzheimer’s, is not a disease—it’s a non-specific syndrome that affects the memory, language, problem solving and attention areas of the brain. The condition progresses over time, and may worsen due to Alzheimer’s or a stroke. Any type of stress, physical or emotional, can often worsen dementia. If your loved one experiences depression, side effects of medication, vitamin B12 deficiency, or dehydration, eliminating these can help reduce the effects of dementia. Keep your eye out for sudden changes, or decline in your loved one’s ability to care for him or herself. Even a urinary tract infection can cause confusion and abrupt changes in elderly behavior. Taking note of progressive and sudden changes can help you provide the best possible care for your loved ones.