Dealing with Dementia and When to Consult a Doctor

If you or a loved one begins to feel that you are starting to experience concerning cognitive symptoms such as short-term memory loss, speech impairment or listlessness, you may be experiencing early signs of dementia. Unfortunately, the condition is typically incurable, but may be some precautionary measures that can be taken to prevent the symptoms from getting worse. But what if you have only recently found out that a loved one is experiencing what would appear to be mid-stage dementia, or perhaps you suspect they are experiencing symptoms indicating they are in the early stages? So the questions come to mind: when do you consult a doctor and when do you accept that you or a loved one has dementia?

Let’s answer these questions.

What is Dementia?

The National Institutes of Health defines dementia as “the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities.” They describe that functions that may be impacted include memory, language skills, problem solving, self-management and the ability to focus and pay attention.

The Alzheimer’s Association explains that Alzheimer’s disease is one type of dementia. The condition can cause problems with memory, thinking and behavior, and symptoms typically develop slowly and get worse over time. They can become severe enough to interfere with tasks of daily living.

Caring for people with dementia can be very challenging, and having dementia is quite frustrating.

When to Consult a Doctor

Should you begin to suspect that you or a family member have dementia, it is advisable that you seek professional advice immediately. This is recommended, not to cause alarm, but rather to obtain a diagnosis, monitor the situation and better understand what may be experienced and how to manage the symptoms. This consultation can also offer relief because experienced healthcare professionals understand the symptoms and can advise on how to improve memory; they may even suggest a few memory exercises.

Seeking professional support will also help family understand how to deal with any issues that may arise in the future, bringing greater understanding into the home.

Questions to Ask a Doctor

Prepare yourself before the doctor’s appointment, as they will be the ones to answer your questions and determine whether any actions need to be taken. Below are some of the most typical questions asked by those who suspect they may have dementia.

Do I Have Dementia? If So, at What Stage is My Dementia?

Dementia can progress even though you may not realize it. It is advisable that you ask your doctor to help you determine how far along you are or if you have misdiagnosed the problem.

How Fast Does Dementia Progress?

By finding out the path of dementia, you’ll get a better understanding of what you are experiencing and what to expect in the near future.

Which Medications Might Help?

As your doctor if there are any medications you can take to improve your state of mind and/or prolong deterioration.

Is It Safe to Live at Home?

As dementia slowly progresses, some people tend to feel like a burden on their families. It is best you seek your doctor’s advice for peace of mind and an honest opinion.

People suffer symptoms of dementia on different scales; so always seek the advice of a professional to get an accurate diagnosis and quality treatment.

10 Early Symptoms of Dementia

Dementia, one of whose symptoms is memory loss, is quite a complex topic. In simple terms, dementia can be described as an ailment with a collection of symptoms that affect the mental well-being of people and quality of life. To shed some more light on the topic, here is what you need to know about dementia and how to identify the symptoms in order to prepare for the journey ahead.

1. Short Term Memory Loss
Simple tasks may become increasingly difficult to complete as short term memory loss kicks in. When people fall victim to dementia, the first symptom is short term memory loss. People may continue to remember something from years ago, but the events of the morning may be lost.

2. Speech Problems
Another symptom is being at a loss for words. People may experience great difficulty trying to find the right words, knowing what they want to say but the specific words may escape them.

3. Mood Swings
Dementia can cause an abrupt change in moods that becomes increasingly irregular the further the stages of dementia progress. At one moment, the person experiencing dementia may feel happy and the very next, may become noticeably irritable.

4. Apathy
Apathy, or listlessness, commonly occurs in early dementia and results in a loss of interest in hobbies or activities. As such, the person may not want to go out anymore or do anything fun. He or she may also lose interest in spending time with friends and family, and may seem emotionally flat.

5. Confusion
Someone in the early stages of dementia may often become confused. When memory, thinking, or judgment lapses, confusion may arise as the person may no longer be able to remember faces, find the right words, or interact with people normally.
Confusion can occur for a number of reasons and apply to different situations. For example, people with dementia may misplace important items, forget what comes next in the day, or have difficulty remembering someone they have met before.

6. Day-to-Day Struggles
Day-to-day tasks may become increasingly difficult to do. Activities as simple as tying shoelaces may become harder to complete independently as the stages of dementia progress.

7. Keeping Ahead
Conversations may become hard to follow for those suffering from the symptoms of dementia. Mental activities as simple as recognizing a single word or phrase will eventually become infuriatingly difficult and victims may struggle to keep up with casual conversations.

8. Direction Impairment
Unfortunately, those who suffer from dementia may also lose all sense of direction. Driving may become a thing of the past as finding one’s way home becomes quite a task.

9. Repetition
Due to short-term memory loss symptoms, dementia victims will often repeat what they have just said without remember that they just said it. This repetitiveness of thoughts or words is an early symptom of dementia, suggesting that the person should be monitored for additional symptoms.

10. Adaption Issues
Unfortunately, those with dementia will struggle to adapt to any sort of change in their environment as they feel less familiar with things they once knew. Changing things in a person’s surroundings, even as small as a table or a chair may unsettle a person suffering from dementia.
These ten symptoms may seem scary, but for cases in which dementia can be treated, mental clarity can be prolonged or restored.

Interesting Causes of Short-Term Memory Loss

Many assume that memory loss is only related to aging, however this assumption has been proven false through a series of documented research. One prime example is something commonly known as pregnancy brain. Young women who have become pregnant have potentially experienced short-term memory loss, which may or may not ever improve after giving birth. This shows that memory loss can occur at various stages of life.

Some of the more interesting causes of memory loss are often misdiagnosed because many are unfamiliar with the causes. Here are some thought-provoking facts as to what may have an impact on short-term memory loss within the human race.

Sleep Apnea
A generous majority of people who have experienced sleep apnea have been diagnosed with short-term memory loss as a result. This sleep disorder occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep on a regular basis. People who experience sleep apnea will often wake up because their breathing has stopped and then fall back into a slumber state only to be woken again and so forth. The effects include lack of oxygen to the brain, short-term memory loss, fatigue, sleep terrors and insomnia. This sleeping disorder can often be treated.

It’s no surprise some medications cause short-term memory loss; what is interesting, however, is that some commonly prescribed medications tend to cause this very worrisome side effect. Sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medications, selective painkillers, diabetic medication and antihistamines are among the culprits that have been known to affect memory.

Depression, Anxiety and Stress
Three common emotional factors that have been documented as causes of impaired memory such as misplacing items or forgetting why you have entered a room have been linked to depression, anxiety, stress and in some instances all of the above mentioned. Left untreated, these conditions and symptoms could worsen and cause severe health problems.

Alcohol and Substance Abuse
The abuse of narcotics or liquor has been commonly known to cause many side effects, one of which being short-term memory loss. Heavy drinkers and users have been scientifically proven to have more memory lapses than adults who drink less frequently.

Nutritional Deficiency
Nutrition plays an enormous role in the health of one’s memory. The saying, “Healthy mind, healthy body” isn’t without substance. Poor eating habits, lack of nutrients and water, insufficient vitamin B12 and many other dietary issues can affect brain performance, including memory loss. Reevaluating and correcting the state of one’s health can remedy some effects of nutritional deficiency and help contribute to a longer, healthier living experience.

Although the above causes of short-term memory loss may be fairly new to people who are only just starting to experience some symptoms, early and prolonged care for one’s body may even result in a healthier lifestyle and memory, which could help you remember where you put your car keys!

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