Every year, the month of May is celebrated nationally as Mental Health Awareness Month. “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.” “LEARN ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH – MENTAL HEALTH BASICS.” CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION, 26 JAN. 2018, WWW.CDC.GOV/MENTALHEALTH/LEARN/INDEX.HTM.
DEMENTIA: KNOW THE FIRST SYMPTOMS
Senile dementia is a brain disorder of irreversible nature. It usually appears in the third age with a series of symptoms that cause the decrease of the intellectual capacity of the person. This decrease in mental function severely affects the performance of essential day-to-day activities. In many cases you get to lose control of emotions, significant changes in personality and behavior occur and ultimately lose the necessary skills to solve any problem or inconvenience of daily life. The group of affected functions can be classified into cortical (reasoning, memory, language, and social relationships), subcortical (emotions) and progressive (mobility and cognitive abilities). Many experts believe that senile dementia is not a specific disease, but a group of symptoms caused by changes in the brain. Understanding the signs can be useful, because knowing what the future holds, you can make plans to help a loved one face its effects.
What are the first symptoms of senile dementia?
The symptoms of senile dementia do not appear suddenly but appear slowly and progressively. The first alarm signal is memory loss. At first, they are unimportant things, like forgetting where the keys have been placed or not remembering a date with a friend. This forgetfulness may only be the result of age, and not indicate senile dementia, may be related to mild cognitive impairment, not all people with mild cognitive impairment progress to dementia. However, if the memory losses become more severe and frequent as time passes, we may be facing a case of senile dementia. That is why we must be vigilant and act as soon as possible before any doubt or suspicion. Among the initial symptoms of senile dementia, apart from memory loss mentioned above, there are others that can alert you if you are attentive to them:
Disorder in the home: they change the things of the place and afterward do not remember where they have put them: keys, ingredients for cooking, clothes. Objects begin to appear in the strangest places: keys in the fridge, sunglasses in shoe boxes, etc.
The clumsiness of movements: They begin to have difficulties in cooking, opening doors, driving, manipulating the cell phone, etc. They start having problems doing things they were good at playing cards, cooking, drawing, or writing. They lose physical coordination and may even have balance problems.
Apathy: they begin to lose interest in tasks that they used to like and some show symptoms of fatigue without having made any effort.
Inadequate behavior: the relative begins to have strange or inappropriate attitudes, attitudes that are entirely out of place, affecting the relationship with friends and family.
Insomnia: it is a frequent symptom in the elderly, but it is accentuated in patients with senile dementia.
If you see these early symptoms of senile dementia in someone from your family or social circle, do not hesitate to consult a doctor and adopt new attitudes from day to day. The first thing you should do is:
Keep calm: Frustration at being aware that you have trouble remembering a fact, looking for a specific word or feeling disoriented can lead to fits of anger and personality change. Given this we must not forget that they do not do it to bother us, to know how to stay calm and avoid confrontation.
Respect autonomy: The caregiver will have to take charge little by little of daily needs such as managing money, keeping the home in good condition or cooking.
Establish routines: Knowing what will happen each day and fragmenting tasks in simple steps will allow you to feel centered and help you to develop them more easily.
Seek help: Dementia is a tough disease not only for the person who suffers but also for their caregivers. Do not be afraid to ask for help when the situation exceeds you to offer the best quality of life both to the person in charge and for you.
If a relative over 65 has at least two of the symptoms of senile dementia, it is time to go to a specialist to check his condition and rule out that he is in the initial phase of the disease. Family members should not make this diagnosis, but they can help in a fundamental way to detect the disease at its earliest stage.
The Memory Care Program at Residential Plaza provides 24-hour medical care, based on the Montessori Program for Aging and Dementia, in a home environment for adults with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia-related disorders. For more information visit: www.residentialplaza.com