Young woman putting wrap around older woman

Dementia is defined as a decline in mental capability to the degree that it disrupts normal daily activities. It affects how we think, feel and remember things, and is caused by damage to nerve cells within our brains.

The term dementia includes a number of different medical conditions. Alzheimer’s disease is a well-known type of dementia, but there are many others. The age at which most people become at-risk for dementia is about 65, although some people experience it when they’re younger, particularly if there’s a family history of it.

If you’re wondering whether you’re experiencing early stages of dementia, or you’re concerned about the well-being of a family member, here are some of the common symptoms.

Personality changes
If someone who is normally mellow and kind becomes angry and argumentative, that may be an indicator of the onset of dementia. Over time, this can worsen into severe mood swings and manifest as suspiciousness and even hostility toward family members or caregivers.

Dementia can also cause depression and result in withdrawal from friends and family or a disinterest in work or favorite hobbies.

Forgetfulness
We all have trouble remembering things from time to time, but someone with dementia will often have trouble recalling where they put things or become confused about where they are or what date or time it is. They may also become lost a lot while driving, even in familiar areas.

Conversation may also become difficult. What starts out as a simple matter of forgetting the right word for something can progress into an inability to converse as they usually would. They may ask the same question over and over again, not remembering that it was answered just moments earlier.

Dementia can interfere with the ability to keep up with bills, resulting in financial problems, and for those who live on their own, it can affect remembering to bathe, eat or clean house.

It’s also not uncommon for people with dementia to leave the stove on or forget to take their medication—or forget that they took it already and take it again.

Physical symptoms
Dementia doesn’t only impact thought processes. Those who experience it may have physical symptoms as well.

It may affect vision, which can mean an inability to detect motion or to perceive distance and depth. People with dementia may also have difficulty distinguishing certain colors, or differentiating among objects if everything is the same hue, such as white fixtures in the bathroom.

Because the brain has trouble processing sensory input in people with dementia, this can result in optical illusions or misperceptions. While this may appear as though the affected person is having delusions, it’s usually a matter of their brain processing the incoming information incorrectly.

There may be other physical issues too—difficulty with speaking and swallowing, plus simple motor activities, like walking.

What to do
If you’re worried about the possibility of dementia-related memory loss in yourself or a family member, contact Riverside Health System right away. You’ll find caring, compassionate medical professionals here to help you get the evaluation and diagnosis you need for memory problems.

Riverside Health System is available to help you by providing neurological assessments by our team of specialists. We also offer exceptional memory care facilities, created especially for those experiencing dementia. We work to engage our residents, make them feel comfortable and help families cope.

Remember that while dementia can be frightening, there’s no reason to go it alone.

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