Dementia is a broad umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders. There are many different types of dementia and some people may present with a combination of types. Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way.
Symptoms of dementia can include
Memory problems – Short-term memory is often affected and new information is difficult to retain for a person with dementia. People with dementia can get lost in seemingly familiar places and may experience confusion with names. Families may notice that their loved one is increasingly forgetful and loses items regularly. However, we all forget a name or face once in a while and this is nothing to worry about. When noticed on a more frequent basis it is advisable to seek medical advice.
Cognitive ability – people with dementia may experience confusion in environments, which are unfamiliar to them. They may have difficulty orientating in time and place, for example, getting up in the middle of the night to go to work, despite being retired. Their ability to focus on specific tasks may be affected, concentration may be difficult to sustain. These symptoms may be noticed in activities such as shopping, where there maybe confusion over goods and payment. Their ability to reason may also be affected. For many people with dementia they get a sense of restlessness and prefer to keep moving than sitting still.
Communication – problems with communicating may be noticed. People with dementia may repeat themselves often or have difficulty finding the right words. Reading and writing may become challenging for a person with dementia. They may experience changes in personality and behaviour, mood swings, anxiety and depression. As a result, people with dementia may lose interest in engaging with others socially. Often following and engaging in conversation can be difficult and tiring and so a formerly outgoing person may become quieter and more introverted. Self-confidence will be affected.
Dementia can be a combination of one or all of the above symptoms, which have been occurring for a period of time and are progressively getting worse. In familiar places it is easier to hide some of the difficulties experienced by people with dementia; plus the symptoms can be seen gradually over time and are initially easily explained away.