Is It Dementia?
Dementia is a problem in the brain that makes
it hard for a person to remember, learn and communicate. After a
while, this makes it hard for the person to take care of himself
Dementia may also change a person's mood and
personality. At first, memory loss and trouble thinking clearly
may bother the person who has dementia. Later, disruptive
behavior and other problems may start. The person who has
dementia may not be aware of these problems.
Dementia is caused by the destruction of brain
cells. A head injury, a stroke, a brain tumor or a problem like
Alzheimer's disease can damage brain cells. Some people have a
family history of dementia.
Dementia causes many problems for the person
who has it and for the person's family.
Many of the problems are due to loss of
Some common signs of dementia are listed
below. But not everyone who has dementia will have all of these
Recent memory loss
- All of us forget things for a
while and then remember them later. People with dementia often
forget things, but they never remember them. They might ask you
the same question over and over, each time forgetting that you
already answered that question. They won't even remember that
they already asked the question.
familiar tasks People who have
dementia might cook a meal but forget to serve it. They might
even forget that they cooked it.
Problems with language
- People with dementia may forget
simple words or use the wrong words. This makes it hard to
understand what they want.
Time and place
disorientation - People who have
dementia may get lost 011 their own street. They may forget how
they got to a certain place and how to get back home.
- Even a person who doesn't have dementia
might get distracted and forget to watch a child closely for a
little while. People who have dementia, however, might forget
all about the child and just leave the house for the day.
Problems with abstract
thinking - Anybody might have
trouble balancing a check book, but people who have dementia may
forget what the numbers are and what has to be done with them.
- People who have dementia may put
things in the wrong places. They might put an iron in the
freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl. Then they can't find
these things later.
Changes in mood
- Everyone is moody at times, but people
with dementia may have fast mood swings, going from calm to
tears to anger in a few minutes.
- People who have dementia may
undergo drastic changes in personality. They might become
irritable, suspicious or fearful.
Loss of initiative
- People who have dementia may
become passive. They might not want to go places or see other
If you have any of these signs
Talk with your doctor. He can do tests to find
out if your signs are caused by dementia. The sooner you know,
the sooner you can discuss treatment options with you r doctor.
If a family member has signs of
Try to get him to see
a doctor. You may want to go along and talk with the doctor
before your relative sees him. Then you can tell the doctor
about the way your relative has been acting without embarrassing