Age may bring wisdom but the downside to this is a tendency to forget things more easily but when this situation worsens, it may be a case of dementia. Other changes in mental functions are involved which can mean it is difficult to carry out everyday tasks in addition to problems with an erratic memory.
As dementia does not have a direct cause but can be a side effect of other illnesses and takes a long time to manifest itself this can delay any treatment that could be given. However, while dementia cannot be cured, there are many instances where, when caught early on, it can be treated with varying degrees of success and often although dementia may seem to be present, it can actually be a case of the person being depressed. Owing to the number of different conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia, it means that there are occasions where it can be treated and sometimes it might not even be dementia but a condition that mimics the symptoms like severe depression.
The importance of accurate diagnosis cannot be underestimated as even hormone imbalances, certain drugs and alcohol can cause the dementia so to treat this, it needs to be caught early on. According to the National Institute on Aging, there are at least one hundred different types of conditions that may result in short-term dementia, many of which can be treated and about ten percent of all cases of dementia may be treatable.
Dementia in the elderly can take on two different forms; reversible and chronic so when symptoms are reversible, the short-term dementia has been caused by another illness or disease. Elderly people face a tremendous amount of change in their lives, sometimes this change can be abrupt like retirement, loss of a loved one, divorce, or change in location for example. Events like this often distress the person involved and lead to stress or depression, both of which their physician needs to know about.
Other medical conditions can also effect how well you are coping on a daily basis and can even cause a loss of appetite and poor sleep patterns which can result in emotional problems. Of course, medical conditions like hypoglycemia, liver and kidney problems, electrolyte imbalances and hypocalcaemia can all create problems that affect sleep, appetite and cause confusion. The elderly do not always want to tell you about their problems in case they are considered to be complaining for the sake of it but if they are having trouble with their vision or hearing, this can cause symptoms of confusion which may be misinterpreted as signs of dementia.
It is a common complaint amongst the elderly that they no longer enjoy their food which can be due to ill fitting dentures or a loss of taste and as a consequence they do not receive adequate nutrition. Head injuries can also affect cognitive functions along with other mental illnesses like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and these too must be investigated.
In these circumstances the best way to check for neurological problems is by using a CAT scan or MRI which can confirm the existence of dementia and whether it can in fact be treated with medication. Although there are currently less options available for the treatment of chronic dementia other than trying to make the sufferer as safe as possible in their environment and help with behavior therapy.