Over the next few weeks many of us will be visiting elderly relatives. It’s important to use these occasions to make sure loved ones are looking after themselves and to look for signs of dementia.
We have compiled some helpful information below that could prove beneficial.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
The initial symptoms may only be mild but you may have seen a decline since you last saw your elderly relative. Things to look out for include:
- Memory Loss – forgetting names of family members or repeatedly asking the same questions.
- Confused – having difficulty planning anything or disorientated in a new environment. Issues with daily tasks such as shopping and paying bills.
- Communication – finding it difficult in selecting the right words
- Mood Swings – changes in behaviour may indicate depression
There are however various strains of dementia that can demonstrate additional symptoms.
Over 100,000 people suffer from Vascular Dementia in the UK. It’s caused by a reduced blood flow to the brain and so parts of the brain become damaged. Its more common in men and starts before the age of 75. Many people suffer stroke like symptoms, slowness of thought and memory loss.
If identified early enough, Vascular cognitive impairment can be treated to help slow or even prevent its progression to full Vascular dementia. This may be through lifestyle changes and medication. However, if the condition is identified once full Vascular Dementia has already set in, then it is only possible for it to be slowed down.
Dementia with Lewy Bodies
The Symptoms are very similar to Alzheimer’s, however suffers may also experience:
- Fluctuating levels of confusion, interspersed with periods of alertness.
- Reduced mobility
This is caused by a build up of abnormal proteins in the brain which leads to the loss of brain cells. This effects the frontal lobes of the brain which affect a persons ability to organise, plan and controls elements of their behaviour.
People with Frontotemporal dementia may lose their inhibitions. This could result in behaviour that is out of character such as making inappropriate comments.
The later stages of dementia can be identified by symptoms such as
- Appetite loss
- Weight loss
- Mobility loss
If you are visiting an elderly relative this Christmas then perhaps use the opportunity to see if they are showing any of the symptoms shown above. If you are concerned then encourage them to see their local GP.
More information regarding dementia can be found on the NHS Choices Website.
We also have another blog post that will help you have an open chat with a loved one about Dementia.