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Dementia is a general term for a number of disorders that affect the brain. People suffering from dementia lose control of their emotions, their ability to solve problems and display personality and behavioral problems that range from agitation and delusions to hallucinations. Memory loss is a symptom of dementia, but memory loss by itself doesn't mean a person has dementia. Common forms of dementia include Alzheimer's, Lewy body dementia, Huntington's disease and Creutzefeld-Jakob disease.


Because dementia can take many forms, symptoms are based more on the presence and severity of the signs of dementia in its various stages.

In the early stages dementia may manifest itself by:

    • Difficulty finding the right word and substituting synonyms or defining the word
    • Forgetting names, appointments or tasks
    • Difficulty driving, cooking a meal, doing household chores or managing finances
    • Changes in personality
    • Uncharacteristic behavior patterns
    • Confusion in unfamiliar surroundings
    • Mood swings
    • Bad judgment

Intermediate stage

    • Worsening of the symptoms above
    • Inability to conduct daily living activities such as eating, dressing or using the bathroom without assistance
    • Inability to sleep at night
    • Unable to learn new things
    • Increased disorientation and confusion, even in familiar places
    • Increased risk of falling or having an accident due to poor judgment or confusion
    • Paranoid delusions, aggressiveness or inappropriate sexual behavior
    • Hallucinations
    • Lack of concentration or a loss of interest in the outside world
    • Believing someone has done something that never happened (confabulation)
    • Abnormal moods such as anxiety or depression

Severe stage of dementia

    • The above symptoms occur more often and become more pronounced
    • Complete dependence on others for daily living activities
    • Can't walk from one place to another without assistance
    • Impaired movements, such as swallowing
    • Complete loss of short- and long-term memory
    • May not be able to recognize relatives or close friends

Is there any treatment?

Treatments in use today can't cure the disease or reverse the damage caused to the brain. However, they can reduce the impact of symptoms and slow the disease's progression. Medications can also improve the person's quality of life and make it easier for caregivers to assist them. Mental exercises that improve memory can also be useful in the early stages.

People with moderate to advanced dementia usually need assistance 24/7. This may include assisting with the basics such as eating, bathing and dressing as well as preventing harm.


Adapted from materials provided by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke








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