Ever wondered, what would happen, if you get up in the morning, and have no clue of who you are, where you are or what you did the day before? It sounds scary isn’t it? To even think that such a thing can happen, can scare the living daylights out of you.
We often laugh forgetfulness all away, a temporary memory lapse, or if we can’t recall something as recent as a few hours old. But the truth is, that it may be an indication of some grave disorder that lies ahead. This is precisely, what we are going to talk about. Dementia is one of the most common memory disorders among the older folk. Let us take a peek into what is dementia and how we can identify it. So let’s get started.
What is Dementia?
It is important to first know what exactly dementia is. Dementia is usually caused by brain injury or disease and is a persistent and chronic mental disorder. In simpler words, it is a condition of constant forgetfulness, reasons may vary.
Also there are significant differences between Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and amnesia, which we are going to discuss as we move ahead.
Is it a harmless memory lapse or the onset of Dementia? What are the Signs and Symptoms?
To know the difference between a harmless lapse of memory and the onset of dementia, read the following points carefully:
Recent Memory Loss
This is a sign when the person starts asking the same question again and again, and also he or she might even forget asking about it.
Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks
A fine example of this can be if a housewife, who is familiar with her day to day chores, starts cooking a meal and forgets midway about it. It can be a really dangerous thing too.
Suppose you are very familiar with a language, Hindi or English or any local dialect that you use to communicate. If you forget very normal words, all of a sudden while talking to someone and simply cannot recall it, in spite of it being the most common word of usage, then this is a cause of worry.
If the patient is cooking a dish that he or she may have prepared many times earlier but cannot fathom how much amount of ingredients is needed, it is an indication of poor judgement. It may also point towards the onset of dementia.
Again I would like to take you back to the example that I used in the previous cause. Remember how Kajol’s character in the film “U, Me aur Hum” forgets the way to her home, her address and subsequently even her own phone number?
Problems with Abstract Thinking
The person with dementia may have problem dealing with abstract thinking. For example, dealing with money may become quite confusing for such a person.
The patient may frequently misplace things unintentionally including putting them in the wrong places and forgetting about doing this. It may range from losing keys, remote, clothes, cash or even forgetting where he or she parked ones’ car in a public area.
Changes in mood may happen in the person very frequently. It can really get difficult with time for family members to keep up with the mood swings.
Changes in personality may also get triggered as dementia progresses. The person can become withdrawn or quiet or may become more expressive unlike his or her nature as before.
Loss of Initiative
You may notice a loss of interest and initiative in daily activities in the person afflicted with dementia. It may result as the memory gets increasingly affected. It is advised to seek professional help before this stage starts.
How Can I differentiate between Alzheimer’s, Amnesia and Dementia?
Although for a layman like you and I, these three appear to be same on the initial level, there are many differences between the three. A basic thing to keep in mind is, while dementia is a broader concept, Alzheimer’s and amnesia form a part or subset of it.
Dementia can be in the form of day to day problems, like occasional forgetfulness of usual things, losing focus, not able to pay attention, difficulty in communication, mood swings etc. Where as in case of amnesia, it is a condition wherein the memory of a person is lost or disturbed. The type of Amnesia or its effects are directly related to its cause or origin.
While amnesia and dementia can affect a person irrespective of age, Alzheimer’s is a condition mostly induced by ageing factors. When someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it is already a permanent condition and medicines can only slow down its effects and take-over of the body. No cure has been found or discovered yet. Initial symptoms of Alzheimer’s are inability to converse properly, aggression, tremors, confusion, short and long term memory loss.
Also, while dementia and amnesia can be of various types, Alzheimer’s is usually of one type. While dementia & amnesia affects the mental state of the person, Alzheimer’s affects not just the psychological wellbeing, it also affects the emotional and the physical condition of a person. No cure has yet been found for Alzheimer’s, while dementia & amnesia can be treated to some extent, if diagnosed in time.
Can Dementia be cured?
Studies reveal that dementia, if diagnosed in time, can be cured to a ceratin degree depending on case to case basis. That, of course, can happen if it has not reached a progressive stage. For a condition like Alzheimer’s, there is sadly no treatment. The medics can only give medicines which can slow down the conditions or lessen the effects. Depression, which is another trait found in dementia patients, can also be cured by anti-depressants prescribed by the medics. Consulting a psychiatrist, who works with old people, is also a good option. There are various medications available for dementia, like Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, Memantine hydrochloride and Antipsychotics.
The most important treatment for dementia is free. It is love, and proper care. If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, trust me, all you need is proper, planned care and love. Discuss the options with family and friends. There are also natural ayurvedic remedies available in addition to traditional medication.
If one suffers from a mental illness, it is a tragedy not only for the sufferer, but also for his or her family members. It is the worst thing to come home to, when you realise that the one you love cannot recognise you, and all your efforts are futile. Identify these symptoms, reach out and stop dementia from entering into your lives.
Feel free to add your stories, or those of someone you know, or even if you want to add something more to this article. It can help many others understand this disorder.