The Many Stages of Dementia Explained
Dementia is a neurological disorder that causes the affected person to lose memory, as well as many natural communication and memory functions. A diagnosis of this kind can be vague in terms of a title, simply being called dementia, while in other cases it may be a specific form, such as Alzheimer's disease or Huntington's.
The first stages of dementia can be the most difficult, both for the affected, and the family of the affected. As memories disappear and communication and personality are altered, it can feel like you are losing part of yourself, or losing a friend or family member. There is currently no known cure for the disease, although there have been some breakthroughs on medication and treatments which can slow down or delay some of the symptoms from occurring.
The Early Stages:
Due to the majority of dementia patients suffering at older ages, sometimes the early signs can slip by. Short term memory loss, when not severe, can be a normal function of aging, and many women, especially, experience this as early as menopause. Unfortunately, this means that dementia isn't caught and treated as early as it could be.
Short term memory loss can be something as simple as forgetting what you did yesterday, to forgetting if you have already taken your heart medication today. As the disease progresses, the memory loss will become worse, and short term memory will cease to exist, with patients being able to look at the same photo over and over without the realization that they have already seen it.
Losing Your Voice:
Another part of the first stages of dementia is finding it difficult to communicate as words become jumbled, and what you want to say is not coming out of your mouth. This can be a particularly frustrating symptom to sufferers as it leaves them unable to express what they are feeling or communicate with loved ones as well as they would like while they still can. This doesn't disable conversation all together, but it can make it a bit confusing for those involved.
Change Is Bad:
It isn't so much that change is bad, but that during the first stages of dementia patients will begin to find it difficult to undergo any changes. And while some might encourage these changes, it can also sometimes help to keep things as normal as possible to retain as much lasting memory as you can. Changes can make it even more difficult to recall short term memory functions, although some changes are necessary.
Many dementia patients will go on to live in homes or have full time attending nurses who take care of them. This is a huge change for people who have been independent their whole lives and don't want to be around strangers, especially in such a state of confusion.
Moods May Change:
Finally, one of the saddest parts of the disease within the first stages of dementia is the mood changes and apathy that may develop. Being depressed, bored, unable to enjoy the same activities that once were enjoyed, will all begin to surface as the disease progresses.
This can be quite heartbreaking, but encouragement, regular visits, and the support of loved ones can help with some of the sadness and listlessness. It won't repair the neurological problems which cause these symptoms, but it can ease the symptoms slightly.
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