Experiencing memory lapses now and then is often a natural part of aging. However, a pattern of forgetfulness or recurring behavior change may be signs of a more serious underlying memory problem, such as the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
Dementia is not a single disease; it’s a broad term (like heart disease) that covers a wide range of medical conditions or disorders caused by damage to brain cells. This damage interferes with the cells’ ability to communicate with each other, triggering a decline in thinking skills that is severe enough to interfere with daily life. These changes to the brain also affect behavior, feelings and relationships.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80% of cases. But there are as many as 50 other diseases that cause dementia and, unfortunately, there is currently no cure for many of them.
There is no single test to determine if someone has dementia. Doctors diagnose Alzheimer's and other types of dementia based on a careful medical history, a physical examination, laboratory tests and the changes in thinking, day-to-day function and behavior associated with each type. While early symptoms of dementia can vary between types, there are certain signs to watch for, including:
Anxiety, anger, or depression
Difficulty finding the right words
Repeating speech or actions
Difficulty completing familiar tasks
A reduced sense of direction
Difficulty adapting to changes
Leaving everyday items in unusual places
Many conditions are progressive, which means that the signs of dementia start out slowly and gradually get worse. If your loved one is experiencing memory difficulties or other changes in thinking skills, early diagnosis will allow them to get the maximum benefit from available treatments and provide time to plan for the future.
Caregiving and support can make all the difference to a loved one’s quality of life. However, as cognitive and functional abilities decline over time, caregiving gradually becomes more challenging. While the caregiving experience can vary widely from person to person, seeking support along the way is often a necessity.
Dorson Home Care provides a range of at-home dementia care services for residents of Northern and Central New Jersey and their families. Dorson Home Care, Inc. is fully licensed by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and is accredited by PCS & Skilled Services. To learn more about our dementia care services, please call our West Orange, NJ office at 973.672.7691.