Dementia is a brain disorder that seriously affects a person’s ability to carry out his or her daily activities.
The most common form of dementia among older people is Alzheimer’s Disease, which initially involves the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. The disease usually begins after age 60, and the risk goes up with age. Nearly half of those over age 85 have Alzheimer’s disease. These facts are from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
10 Warning Signs…
What’s Not Considered Normal
- Memory Loss: people forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common early signs of dementia. They are unable to recall the information later.
- Difficulty Performing Familiar Tasks: people with dementia often find it hard to plan or complete everyday tasks.
- Problems with Language: people with cognitive impairment often forget simple words or substitute unusual words, making their speech or writing hard to understand.
- Disorientation to Time and Place: people with memory loss can become lost in their own neighborhoods, forget where they are and how they got there, and not know how to get back home.
- Poor or Decreased Judgment: those with dementia may dress inappropriately, wearing several layers on a warm day and little clothing in the cold. They may also show poor judgment about money, such as giving away large sums to telemarketers.
- Problems with Abstract Thinking: someone with mental impairment may have unusual difficulty performing complex mental tasks, like forgetting what numbers are and how they should be used.
- Misplacing Things: a person with dementia may put things in unusual places — an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl or food under the bed.
- Changes in Mood or Behavior: someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia may show rapid mood swings — from calm to tears to anger — for no apparent reason.
- Changes in Personality: the personalities of people with dementia can change dramatically. They may become extremely confused, suspicious, fearful or dependent on a family member.
- Loss of Initiative: someone with dementia may become very passive, sitting in front of the TV for hours, sleeping more than usual or not wanting to do his or her normal activities.