Symptoms of Dementia in Seniors
Early Symptoms of Dementia
Early symptoms of dementia in seniors appear gradually. You may forget where you’ve placed an object or why you went into a certain room. You may miss important dates and appointments. The difference between normal aging and dementia is the ability to later recall what occurred. With dementia patients, the memory is lost for good. As the dementia worsens, there may be personality changes. The individual may experience episodes of paranoia or anger. He may become frustrated as his symptoms become more evident and seem beyond his control.
With some brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, physical damage occurs when parts of the brain shrink and die, bringing on the signs of dementia. The associated brain function then is impaired. For example, damage to parts of the cerebrum that control language may precede symptoms such as difficulty finding words.
Advanced Symptoms of Dementia
As the condition progresses, the individual may begin to withdraw from others and lose interest in once favorite activities. He may feel depressed. Further damage to brain areas controlling motor function will render the individual unable to take care of himself. He may have difficulty walking without assistance.
Complications set in as the risk of falling and pressure sores increases. Dementia patients may suffer from malnutrition and incontinence. Perhaps mercifully, the individual may not be aware of his own physical and mental decline in later stages.
Causes of Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of symptoms of dementia in seniors. The disease causes abnormalities in brain tissue and nerve cells. While a cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not known, it is believed to be hereditary. There is no cure for the disease, though current research has shown promise for slowing its symptoms, providing some comfort for loved ones.
Vascular dementia can also cause dementia. With the condition, the arteries of the brain harden, causing interruptions in blood flow, not unlike atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries to the heart. It is associated with high blood pressure and heart disease.
Symptoms of dementia may develop in later stages in some cases of Parkinson’s disease. The disease is characterized by a deterioration of nerve tissue and a reduction in the neurotransmitter, dopamine. A neurotransmitter is a chemical that transmits nerve impulses. The disease affects movement and balance, but its cause like Alzheimer’s disease, is not known.
Prevention of Dementia
As with many medical conditions, leading a healthy lifestyle is the best prevention for dementia. Enjoy a balanced diet which includes plenty of fruits and vegetable along with moderate alcohol use. Since dementia has been associated with other chronic health conditions, regularly check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. You should include exercise in your lifestyle, which will also prevent other conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Exercise can help raise your HDL or good cholesterol levels, reducing your risk for atherosclerosis.
While not all dementia can be prevented, being healthy will give you the best defense against disease and minimize the effects of complications. Most of all, listen to your body. If you or a loved one develops symptoms of marked memory loss or mood swings, see your doctor. Seek the support of family and friends. Through hope and understanding, you will find a way to cope.