Dementia is not a specific disease, rather it is a number of symptoms relating to the overall, gradual loss of cognitive abilities. It is caused by damage to brain cells, and interferes with communication, thinking, feelings and – sadly for loved ones – behaviour. This can lead to a point where the sufferer may not be able to carry out simple daily tasks such as eating or getting dressed.
There are different types of progressive cognitive disorders including dementia, and its symptoms can vary greatly. It is important to note that dementia is not a normal part of aging and the presence of one of these symptoms does not necessarily indicate dementia.
People with dementia experience significant impairment of two or more brain functions below:
Communication and Language
The diseases that cause dementia can affect the part of the brain that controls language, causing sufferers to start confusing the meaning of words and have difficulty finding the right words, even simple ones. For instance, they may use ‘thing to sit on’ because they are unable to remember the word ‘chair’. It is also common for dementia sufferers to be unable to complete coherent sentences as well as understand and follow what others are saying. Moreover, resuming a conversation after an interruption may prove to be a challenge.
Inability to Focus
Another change experienced by people with dementia is the inability to focus. Holding on to a train of thought becomes difficult and this negatively impacts the ability to complete tasks as well as memory.
A decline in memory function is one of the most common symptoms of dementia and unlike normal memory loss that is a normal part of aging, memory loss due to dementia gets worse over time. It is not about having trouble remembering names and specific words, it is severe enough to interfere with the person’s ability to function and carry out tasks they’ve previously done, and places they’ve been to many times before.
Our brains are constantly processing, recognising and making sense of what we see, based on previously-acquired knowledge. With the progression of dementia, visual perception also starts to diminish. The brain starts to misinterpret what the individual sees, and becomes less able to distinguish colours, shapes and sizes, which often causes the sufferer to mistake one object for another.
Emotional & Behavioural Changes
Anxiety and depression are often triggered by the fear and frustration individuals feel due to the changes and gradual deterioration of their abilities. Dementia itself may also bring about behavioural changes by lowering a person’s inhibitions to expressing such frustration, making anger outbursts a common occurrence. This sudden change in certain aspects of the sufferers’ personality may be particularly hard for family members to accept and deal with.
While drugs can’t cure dementia, they may improve symptoms or slow down the disease. Therefore, providing dementia sufferers with proper care and a safe environment is vital. At CareMalta, we do just that. With our trained staff specialising in dementia, you can put your mind at rest that your loved one will be in good hands. If you would like to find out more how our dedicated team can help your loved ones, contact us today.