Dementia and Alzheimer’s is not quite the same thing; Dementia is an umbrella term that describes different symptoms affecting a person’s cognitive ability that includes their ability to brainstorm, reason, and remember. While on the other hand, Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that causes the brain cells to waste away. According to the National Insitute of Aging, Alzheimer’s is the most common disease of dementia.
Check out the FAQs section of National Institute of Aging for more detail on the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Although Alzheimer’s typically happens to older adults, it is not an evitable part of aging. Older people tend to forget things, and their brain naturally gets deterioratedwith age, but with dementia, everything occurs more quickly. Alzheimer’s gets pretty worse with time, and it is essential to keep an eye on the early warning signs that we have discussed in this article so that you can know and contact your doctor ASAP.
Before you think that a person has Alzheimer’s, which is the most common disease of dementia, you should consider the following types of dementia as well:
- Vascular disorders
- Lewy body dementia
- Mixed dementia, or a combination of types
- Frontotemporal dementia
Here are some most common signs of Dementia/Alzheimer’s:
Loss of Memory
One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is loss of memory, in an unusual way – like forgetting recently learned information, names, dates, events, etc. People with dementia would rely increasingly on memory aids, such as notes and reminders. This is just an early sign; later, they might start asking the same question over and over again.
According to National Institute of Aging, loss of memory is a sign of mild Alzheimer’s disease.
Facing difficulty in planning and solving everyday problems
A person with dementia faces trouble in following a plan, for example, when cooking a dish or following directions when driving. It also gets challenging for them to solve everyday problems such as adding up numbers when paying bills, keeping track of monthly bills, remembering what time it is, etc.
Difficulty finding the right words
People with dementia struggles in finding the right words to communicate thoughts, and they may also get confused while explaining something or expressing their feelings to other people. Having a good conversation with a person with dementia may get a bit challenging, and it may also take longer to reach a conclusion.
Daily tasks are a challenge
Even the familiar, everyday tasks can become hardfor a person with dementia. For example, they would forget the rules of even their favorite game, how to change settings on a TV, operate a computer, etc. All this can happen at both work and home.
Confusion with time or place
A person having Alzheimer’s can forget what time, place, or season it is. They may also have a problem understanding something if it doesn’t happen immediately. Sometimes they can also forget where they are and how they reached there.
If your loved one is often confused with time or place, or if they forget where they are and how they got there, it can be dangerous to let them go out by themselves. If you need help in this factor, you may read our Guide to Choosing the Right Wandering Alarms and Sensors for Dementia Patients for more tips.
Problems understanding visual information
It starts getting challenging for a person with dementia to understand visual information. They can get confused in telling the difference between colors, judge distances, and it gets hard for them to read. Older people, especially who drive or cycle, may find it difficult performing these activities.
Frequent Mood Swings and Changes
Frequent mood swings and changes are also a common sign of Alzheimer’s. It isn’t easy to tell that if you have dementia, but you can notice this change in someone else. A person with dementia may start getting more depressed on every little thing.
Not just changes in mood, you might also see a shift in personality. One common personality change that is seen with dementia is the person becomes outgoing from being shy. This is because the person with dementia is unable to judge the current condition and situation.
Difficulty in keeping track of storylines
This one is a classic early symptom that may occur due to early dementia. Just as how difficult it can become for Alzheimer’s patients to use the right words, they can also forget the meanings of words and struggle to follow along with a movie, TV program, or a conversation.
It is common in people with dementia to be repetitive because of general behavioral changes and memory loss. They may often repeat tasks such as shaving, watering plants, or collect items fanatically. They may also ask the same questions that they have just been answered in a conversation.
Alzheimer’s is a brain-related disease that can affect decisions and the ability to judge different things. For example, a person with Alzheimer’s will make poor decisions and mistakes with money (like give it away when they are not supposed to), shower more often, wear a wrong dress for the weather, etc.
It is not a big deal to misplace things time to time, but the major problem arises when you can’t retrace your steps to find those things again, or you start putting them in unusual places, for example, your watch in the refrigerator. Such unusual activities are commonly performed by a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Social withdrawal is normal, but if a person is scaling back on projects at work, lacking motivation, feeling less involved with their favorite hobbies, finding themselves watching television or sleeping more than usual, etc.
So, what are the differences between typical age-related changes and Alzheimer’s/Dementia?
Typical Age-Related Changes:
- Missing a monthly payment
- Misplacing things from time to time
- Sometimes forgetting the right words to choose
- Making a poor decision once in a while
- Forgetting which day it is but remembering it later
Signs of Alzheimer’s/Dementia:
- Not able to manage a budget and missing payments frequently
- Losing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them
- Difficulty choosing the right words and having difficulty while having a conversation
- Poor decision-making and judgement
- Losing track of the season, time, day, or date
For more differences, go through this research by National Institute of Aging.
When to visit a doctor?
Memory problems and forgetting things doesn’t mean a person has Alzheimer’s or any dementia. These things are normal parts of aging and can occur because of several other reasons, such as fatigue. However, these early signs of Alzheimer’s and Dementia shouldn’t be ignored. If you or someone you know is facing these symptoms, it is important to talk to a doctor.
You or the person experiencing these symptoms can contact a neurologist who can examine the mental and physical health to determine whether these signs point to dementia or any other cognitive problem. ThereThe doctor may ask you to take:
- Blood tests
- A series of memory and mental tests
- Brain imaging tests
- A neurological exam
Dementia/Alzheimer’s is more common in people over the age of 60. However, it can also affect younger people. According to National Institude of Aging, early onset of dementia can begin when they are in their 30s, 40s, or 50s.
Can it be controlled? Yes, it can be controlled with the right treatment and early diagnosis. Proper treatment can slow the progression of the disease and maintain cognitive function. The treatment may include therapies, medications, or cognitive training.
Alzheimer’s or any dementia can cause a lot if not diagnosed and treated at early stages. You should notice all or some of these symptoms in a person with dementia, and when you do, you should take precautionary measures like talking to a doctor. You can also try Effective Activities for Preventing Dementia, so you or someone you love don’t have to go through all those severe problems that dementia comes with.