Dementia is a term that covers a variety of symptoms caused by changes in your brain’s function. It is the progressive deterioration in cognitive function, or the ability to process thoughts. Dementia is usually due to damage or disease. This article will describe some of the common symptoms and causes of dementia. It is not meant to constitute or replace medical advice.
The following are common symptoms of dementia:
Experiencing memory loss, asking the same question repeatedly, and misplacing things are all symptoms of dementia. This is not just forgetting where you put your keys, but behaviors such as putting your wallet in the bathroom cabinet. A person with dementia will not only ask the same question over and over but will not recall asking it in the first place.
Becoming disoriented about time, people and places, including becoming lost in familiar places and not being able to find your way home, is another symptom of dementia.
Difficulty performing familiar tasks, such as cooking a meal or making a bed, can be a sign of dementia.
Problems with language, including forgetting simple words or using the wrong words, is another symptom. Communication becomes more difficult as problems with talking, reading and writing grow worse.
Problems with abstract thinking is another dementia symptom. For example, patients with dementia may not only have problems with math but will forget what numbers are and what they are used for.
Being unable to follow directions is another sign.
Changes in mood and personality changes. Patients with dementia may have very fast mood swings and drastic changes in personality. Dementia patients are often extremely anxious and fearful.
Neglecting personal safety, hygiene and nutrition is another symptom. This may also manifest itself as poor judgment, such as not wearing a coat when the weather is very cold.
Dementia is caused by the destruction of brain cells. This can be due to a head injury, a stroke, a brain tumor or a disease such as Alzheimer’s. Excessive drug or alcohol use can also cause this condition. Nutritional deficiencies in vitamins such as B12 and folate can cause dementia, as can certain kidney, liver and lung diseases.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia. Other diseases that can cause dementia are HIV and AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and multiple sclerosis, among others. Lewy body disease and Pick’s disease, two conditions which were originally diagnosed as Alzheimer’s, are also emerging as leading causes of dementia.
If you or someone you love is experiencing any of these symptoms, please see your health care provider for care and treatment.