We all expect to become more forgetful as we get older, but memory loss can sometimes be the sign of something more serious.
Dementia is the term used describe the symptoms of a large group if illnesses which cause a progressive decline in a persons functioning. It is a broad term used to describe a loss of memory , intellect, rationality, social skills and what would be considered normal emotional reactions. For instance, a person with dementia may find it hard to do tasks they previously had no trouble with, such as writing, reading, showering and using numbers.
The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, the cause of which is unknown. Although Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of ageing, it is more common in older people and may affect about one in four people over the age of 85. Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia, associated with problems in the flow of blood to the brain.
Signs of Dementia
One of the first signs of dementia is memory loss that gets worse and happens more often, not just sometimes. People with early dementia may:
- have difficulty remembering people and events, especially recent events;
- have difficulty performing familiar tasks;
- be confused about time and place;
- not be able to say what they think;
- have problems understanding what others are saying;
- misplace things;
- have less energy;
- and find it hard to manage money.
Many conditions have similar early signs to dementia, so it is important to visit a doctor to find out for sure.
What Happens with Dementia?
The brain deteriorates gradually and stops working properly, which affects what a person says and does. The person might have trouble speaking, understanding and remembering and it may also change their behaviour. This includes the person finding everyday tasks such as eating, dressing or driving becoming increasingly more difficult, becoming easily upset or confused, being unusually aggressive or suspicious, jumbling and confusing their words and gradually losing their ability to communicate through written language.
For further information, please contact the Alzheimer’s Australia NSW
National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 or visit www.alzheimers.org.au