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TheSsymptoms of Dementia in Seniors

by Irene Mmari

As we age, we naturally have difficulty remembering things or finding the right words to say although this is quite normal but dementia is not normal. As other functions carried out by the brain are affected, many normal occurrences can become confusing for a person suffering with dementia.

Dementia is a slow progressive brain disorder characterized by the loss of ability to think, reason and remember, but dementia is not a disease itself rather a group of symptoms that are caused by various diseases or conditions. In some cases, the dementia can be treated because the cause is treatable although in some cases where the person may appear to have dementia, a severe depression can be causing the symptoms. In cases where a person is suffering from depression, dementia like symptoms can be present leading to a false diagnosis but in others it is just a matter of treating the cause of the condition.

This can happen when a person has a reaction to drugs or alcoholic drink; even hormones can play a part in the process and highlights the reason why a physician needs to make a thorough examination as these conditions are treatable. It is now believed that short term or temporary dementia can be caused by at least one hundred other conditions and while the number of treatable dementia cases is only one in ten, the doctor needs to be fully aware of the circumstances so an opportunity to treat the patient is not overlooked.

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.

Nutritional Imbalances can also cause dementia like symptoms and indicators of this include difficulty swallowing, chewing, or digesting food but the loss of the sense of smell, taste, or inability to eat due to dentures or trouble shopping can all contribute to nutritional deficiencies. Situations like a fall with an injury to the head might also produce problems with mental functioning just as other illnesses associated with dementia like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease can and should also be looked into by the doctor.

When diagnosing dementia, the use of scanning equipment like CAT scans and MRI’s are necessary which can also indicate whether the incidence of dementia is a treatable one or not. The main difference when it is a case of irreversible dementia is the need for adjustments to be made where the person lives to avoid situations that are dangerous but continuous training in behavior methods should also be carried out.

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