Dementia and our Aging Society

Dementia is not a specific disease. It is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example.

While symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.

Dementia is often incorrectly referred to as “senility” or “senile dementia,” which reflects the formerly widespread but incorrect belief that serious mental decline is a normal part of aging. old feature

The Canadian Alzheimer’s Society has developed a warning list of 10 key signs:

  1. Memory loss that affects day-to-day function

It’s normal to forget things occasionally and remember them later: things like appointments, colleagues’ names or a friend’s phone number. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may forget things more often and not remember them later, especially things that have happened more recently.

  1. Difficulty performing familiar tasks

Busy people can be so distracted from time to time that they may leave the carrots on the stove and only remember to serve them at the end of a meal. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may have trouble with tasks that have been familiar to them all their lives, such as preparing a meal.

  1. Problems with language

Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes, but a person with Alzheimer’s disease may forget simple words or substitute words, making her sentences difficult to understand.

  1. Disorientation of time and place

It’s normal to forget the day of the week or your destination — for a moment. But a person with Alzheimer’s disease can become lost on their own street, not knowing how they got there or how to get home.

  1. Poor or decreased judgment

People may sometimes put off going to a doctor if they have an infection, but eventually seek medical attention. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may have decreased judgment, for example not recognizing a medical problem that needs attention or wearing heavy clothing on a hot day.

  1. Problems with abstract thinking

From time to time, people may have difficulty with tasks that require abstract thinking, such as balancing a cheque book. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease may have significant difficulties with such tasks, for example not recognizing what the numbers in the cheque book mean.

  1. Misplacing things

Anyone can temporarily misplace a wallet or keys. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in inappropriate places: an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.

  1. Changes in mood and behaviour

Everyone becomes sad or moody from time to time. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease can exhibit varied mood swings — from calm to tears to anger — for no apparent reason.

  1. Changes in personality

People’s personalities can change somewhat with age. But a person with Alzheimer’s disease can become confused, suspicious or withdrawn. Changes may also include apathy, fearfulness or acting out of character.

  1. Loss of initiative

It’s normal to tire of housework, business activities or social obligations, but most people regain their initiative. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may become very passive, and require cues and prompting to become involved.

 

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References:

http://www.alz.org/research/science/major_milestones_in_alzheimers.asp

http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_10_signs_of_alzheimers.asp

http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/About-dementia/Alzheimer-s-disease/Warning-signs-and-symptoms/10-warning-signs

 

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