I am sure all of us at some point in time would have misplaced keys, forgotten someone’s name, or maybe a phone number. We have often faced a situation that when we go to a particular room in the house, and wonder why I came to this room, or a time even while giving directions about our house, we go blank with the address details. When we are young we do not give much attention to such kinds of lapses, but as we age, we may tend to worry about it. Such types of lapses in the memory can be quite frustrating at times.
But as we grow old, we may experience many physiological changes as well that may lead to glitches in the functions of our brains. With age, it takes a longer time to learn and also to recall any information. We may not be as quick as we would have been during our younger self. Some people may link these lapses to memory loss. The normal age-related loss of memory does not stop a person from leading a complete and productive life.
Hence it becomes inevitable to know the difference between normal and regular forgetfulness due to age and other cognitive problems like Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia. One of the best resources would be to consult a neurologist online to have a better understanding of such problems.
First and foremost the question that comes to our mind is, What Is Dementia? Well, Dementia is as they say an umbrella term that describes a set of symptoms such as impairment in judgment, reasoning, memory, language, and thinking skills. The destruction in the cognitive functions is generally accompanied by worsening in motivation, social behavior, and emotional control. It’s important to note that Dementia affects each person differently, depending on the person’s personality before the illness and the impact of the disease.
Loss of memory in a person does not mean that it is Dementia. Though it is one of the first signs of Dementia, it may be due to other reasons as well. There are numerous forms of Dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most familiar form of dementia. It is present in 60-70% of dementia cases.
Early Dementia and Memory Loss:
Most elderly generally fear that they may be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease as they are unable to remember names or numbers, not able to find their glasses. These common problems arise due to the slowdown of cerebral processes along with age. Though for sure it is a nuisance, it does not majorly harm or weaken a person’s ability to solve problems, learn new information, or carry out day-to-day activities.
In Alzheimer’s disease, loss of memory is based on a specific pattern. The main loss is in short-term memory. This means that a person may face difficulty in remembering recent events like the instructions given by the doctor in the morning, or what he or she did in the last week. There would be a sharp contrast in the memory of the person from events that occurred in an earlier year to the ones which took place in recent times.
The major difference between dementia and age-related memory loss is that dementia disables a person. The memory lapses have very little impact on the daily activities of the person. Dementia may also lead to a disabling continuous decline in one or more cerebral abilities like language, memory, abstract thinking, and judgment.
To have a better idea of the difference in both, below are a few of the normal memory lapse instances and does NOT imply dementia:
· Forgetting names of family and friends
· Going to a room and forget the reason why he or she has gone there
· Sometimes may forget the place of regular things like keys, glasses, or remote control of the TV.
· May get easily distracted or may face difficulty in remembering the details of a particular conversation, or forgot something that has been read recently.
· May not be able to recover some information which may seem to be on the tip of the tongue
When the loss of memory becomes severe and persistent that it starts disturbing the person’s daily activities, work, social activities, hobbies, relationships, it may be the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease or some other disorder that may lead to dementia.
When a person faces frequent memory lapses, it is advisable to consult a neurologist online or offline. Discuss the issue with the doctor and opt for a thorough examination. Even if the person does not display all the important symptoms of dementia, it would still be recommended to take action by preventing a small issue to become a bigger one.
The doctor would assess the patient’s symptoms, risk factors and will advise the appropriate action to be taken on it. Diagnosis at an early stage will remove the reversible causes of loss of memory, reduce the decline in dementia or it may also help to improve the quality of life of the person suffering from Alzheimer’s or any other type of Dementia.
Dementia and relationships
Once the symptoms of dementia begin to get worse, the patient would need support and additional help. If the patient had been managing the social and financial affairs of his or her family, then it becomes more difficult not only for the patient but also for the family. Dementia affects all facets of the patient’s life including his or her relationship with friends and family. The relationship between the patient and the other person changes over time.
It is crucial to remember that each person experiences dementia differently. Communication plays a major part in any kind of relationship; hence it is quite helpful while dealing with a dementia patient as well.
A patient suffering from dementia may also face trouble in following or remembering a conversation. The patient can work on few things to manage the loss of memory and improve it by preventing any further deterioration by keeping every-day important things in the same place, by maintaining a diary with a to-do list, important names and phone numbers, appointments, details of the medicines, also one of the helpful way is to keep photos of families and friends with their name and other details written on it, spend quality time with friends and family.
The person who takes care of dementia or other memory loss patient will have to consider and follow the below points while dealing with the patient.
The patient suffering from dementia may ask questions repeatedly. He or she may not be able to carry out their simple daily tasks like bathing, eating, etc. The family member who takes care of the patient will have to understand him or her and should not get irritated by their behavior.
The care-giver person should be able to keep a calm composure. At times, the person taking care may not be able to answer all the questions asked by the patient, at that time he or she should distract the patient with another topic or activity. The caregiver should not lose their cool or say anything that may affect the confidence of the patient. If the care-giver notices that the patient has withdrawn and speaks less, then the caregiver should speak with the patient, give him or her the time to respond, if required use other ways of communication or rephrase the statement. Still, if the caregiver notices a major change it would be best to immediately seek an online consultation with the neurologist and address the concern or issue.
Not just the care-giver alone but the entire family can help the patient suffering from dementia. It should not be the sole responsibility of the caregiver but all family members should lend a helping hand. Not just adults in the family but even children can help the patient to lead a peaceful life. The family should ensure that the patient is always comfortable. At times, the whole family along with the patient should involve themselves all together with some games or activities. One of the best and simple ways wherein even children can contribute is by listening to the past or present tales shared by the elderly patient. This helps with the patient’s memory and also will help to stimulate their brain cells. Family members should keep a track of food being eaten by the patient, it should not only be a balanced and nourishing diet, but it should also be liked by the patient. Another basic and simple thing to do is give frequent hugs to the patient. This will ensure the patient that he or she is not alone in this disease, and the family supports them with all their love and care.
If the care-giver notices any kind of behavioral changes in the patient, he or she needs to find out the reason behind it. At times the patient may get aggressive or the patient may not be able to speak properly, or may lose out on words, or may find it difficult to express themselves. Whatever may be the condition, it’s imperative for the patient to share the feelings and let them out. The caregiver should try to know the reason behind it and if any doubt should immediately approach an online neurologist to reach a solution and help the patient. The caregiver should be careful to not make the patient feel bad about their words and behavior. Help the patient to be confident and independent to carry out their daily tasks.
Though it is challenging and scary to acknowledge the changes in the patient, it is pertinent to take some action. Detection of memory issues at an early stage may help the caregiver to take proper decisions and is also able to explore other clinical options. For those patients who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or any other type of dementia, it is vital to keep the health-care costs down at the same time maintain the quality of life. Understanding dementia will alleviate the stigma around this disease, and eventually increase the support to the family and friends of the patient.
Till date, there is no such cure or prevention for dementia, however, scientific evidence suggests that healthy behavior may help to reduce the risk of memory loss or dementia and help to keep the brain fit. Healthy lifestyle changes such as: maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol and blood sugar, quit smoking, enough sleep, limiting consumption of alcohol, healthy weight, and prevent from any kind of fall or injury to the head can help to prevent or delay the onset of memory problems. In the end, not just the patient, but the caregiver should try to avoid stress as this will take away the energy to handle the patient and may make things worse for both. The caregiver should encourage the patient to share his or her emotions. Above all this, an online check-up or an online consultation with a neurologist is always recommended to have timely checks on the patient regularly to be able to handle and care for the patient suffering from dementia.
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