Dementia is the deterioration of brain cells, causing a loss of brain function. As the disease process begins, the person involved will start to experience a couple of symptoms that usually, but not always, begin with forgetfulness. Having an elderly mother with dementia, I can attest to this being the case with her as her dementia manifested itself. She often forgot to pay bills, and quite often misplaced her house keys, sending me on a trip over to her place to help find them.
As this disease progresses, one will have problems with communication skills, learning skills, and will eventually be incapable of caring for him/her self. Often times there is a family history involved as well. This is also the case with my family.
Dementia has a number of causes, some of which cause a lot of the same things as heart and vascular disease, but with dementia these things target the brain. There are a few different categories I’ll mention here:
Lewy Body Dementia
This is caused by clumps of abnormal proteins that destruct brain cells.This dementia involves fluctuations between confusion, and clarity. It also includes tremors and disruption of REM sleep. This is the type my mother suffers from. She goes back and forth , in and out of her dementia.
This type of dementia occurs when there has been damage to the vascular system serving brain function. Many times from a stroke resulting from high blood pressure, or other brain injuries.
Frontal Temporal Dementia
This dementia is caused by nerve damage resulting from degeneration of nerve cells. The characteristics of this type of dementia include personality and behavioral changes.
Problems with language
Loss of initiative
Problems with abstract thinking
Difficulty performing familiar tasks
Disoriented to time and place
If any of these symptoms seem to be creeping up on your loved one, they’ll be best served to see the doctor with you present to explain the entire situation to their doctor. With a loved one along for the visit, the doctor will be better informed on the circumstances surrounding your loved one, and will be better able to make the necessary medical decisions regarding your loved one’s treatment.
Watching a loved ones cognitive ability slowly slip away can be hard to face. I know it was for my father and I. We didn’t want to confront that but had to nonetheless. My mother has since seen her doctor with I and my father and begun her treatment plan . She remains in and out of lucidity and is still forgetful, but without treatment it would be much worse.
As dementia progresses, be sure to report any changes to the physician involved so treatment can be adjusted accordingly.