The onset and development of memory loss and dementia can be your biggest concern as a child and caregiver for your parent. Sometimes taking care of the physical and organizational aspects of your parent’s aging process are tiring, but the idea of losing that person cognitively can be almost unbearable. Unfortunately, many of us have to deal with the reality of our parents’ memory loss and dementia.
"Most people’s personality changes a little with age. People affected by dementia may experience a very pronounced personality change; this can happen suddenly or over a longer period of time."
For people suffering with dementia, dealing with daily life becomes increasingly difficult and they become increasingly incompetent and insecure in normal daily situations. But skills and abilities deeply ingrained by their life history are preserved for a long time; sometimes patients become sensitive to physical contact and showing warmth toward others.
Knowing what to expect will help. Following are 10 symptoms to watch for :
- Forgetfulness with effects at work. Most people forget names or appointments sometimes. If this happens more frequently and inexplicable states of confusion become apparent, this could be an indication of a decline in memory function.
- Difficulties with familiar activities. People who are very busy are sometimes absent-minded and, for example, forget the pot on the stove. People with dementia possibly forget not only the pot on the stove, but also that they are the one who is cooking.
- Language problems. Most people occasionally experience difficulties in finding the right words. Dementia sufferers often cannot remember simple words and instead they use inappropriate ‘fillers,’ which make it difficult to understand the flow of the sentences.
- Problems with spatial and temporal orientation. Most people sometimes forget, for example, the day of the week or can get lost in unfamiliar surroundings. Dementia sufferers might be on their own street and no longer know where they are, how they got there or how to get home again.
- Impaired capacity of judgment. People don’t always wear the most appropriate clothing for the weather. Dementia sufferers, however, sometimes wear totally inappropriate clothes. For example, they wear a bathrobe while shopping or several blouses on top of each other on a hot summer day.
- Problems with abstract thinking. Managing a bank account can be a challenge for many people. Dementia patients can often neither recognize numbers nor carry out simple calculations.
- Leaving things behind. From time to time almost everybody leaves keys or a wallet behind. Dementia sufferers, however, might put things in completely inappropriate places, such as putting the iron in the fridge or a watch in the sugar bowl. Afterwards they do not remember where they put these items.
- Mood swings and behavioral changes. Everybody has mood swings. People with dementia may have very sudden mood swings, often without discernible cause.
- Personality changes. Most people’s personality changes a little with age. People affected by dementia may experience a very pronounced personality change; this can happen suddenly or over a longer period of time. Somebody who is generally friendly, for example, becomes unexpectedly angry, jealous or timid.
- Loss of initiative. No one continuously works with the same motivation. Dementia patients sometimes lose the zest in their work and the interest in their hobbies completely without enjoying new activities.