Several years ago, people thought that any form of memory loss in older adults automatically meant Alzheimer’s was setting in. However, we now know that people experience episodes of forgetfulness for a variety of reasons and memory loss is not a side effect or natural effect of aging.
On the other hand, some memory problems do indicate the presence of a serious condition, including that of dementia. It can be caused by any number of diseases or conditions, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common. Additional signs and symptoms of dementia include:
Seniors who are developing dementia may start losing the ability to communicate as they normally would. For example, many older adults substitute words in a conversation that make no sense. Others find it hard to put things into words, even though they know what they’re trying to say. Another sign of aphasia is forgetting the name of a common object. Let’s say a senior wants you to pass the salt, but she can’t remember the word “salt” and quickly becomes frustrated with this lapse of memory.
Another sign of dementia is disorientation. Seniors who cannot tell you the current date, where they are, or their name are said to be suffering from disorientation. For seniors who wander, disorientation is especially worrisome and will likely require some form of eldercare to ensure their safety.
Scientific experts are still trying to determine whether or not dementia causes elderly depression. Despite any conclusions drawn in the future, with so many seniors suffering from both dementia and depression, it’s hard to deny there is a link between the two.
Serious signs that tend to indicate dementia include emotional withdrawal, social withdrawal, unintended weight loss, severe insomnia or suicidal tendencies. Clinical depression should not be confused with infrequent bouts of the blues, making an expert diagnosis essential.
Changes in behavior patterns are normally seen after the onset of other dementia symptoms, but can (and often do) occur at any time. Seniors with dementia usually begin to act in ways that are very inappropriate, such as sexual advances or fits of physically aggressive rage. One of the most dangerous behavioral disorders has to be wandering, which is also linked to disorientation to person, place and time. When seniors begin to wander, eldercare services are absolutely essential for the safety of everyone involved.
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