Dementia: Expert discusses the signs and symptoms
Dementia is a syndrome, which is a group of related symptoms, linked to the ongoing decline of the brain.
More typically affecting older people, it can lead to memory loss, behavioural changes and even mobility issues.
Although there is no known cure yet for dementia there is treatment and support available out there to help manage symptoms.
Therefore, spotting the signs as soon as possible can help provide the affected person with a better quality of life.
Typically, many of us think about memory loss when we think about symptoms of dementia.
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According to Dementia UK, there are some tell-tale signs that could appear when talking with someone.
- Struggling to find the right words
- Repeating themselves often
- Difficulty making and following conversation
- Becoming quieter and more withdrawn.
They might also exhibit a loss of interest in socialising, loss of confidence and changes in personality and behaviour, the charity says.
The Alzheimer’s Society warns that as a result you will need to adapt how you communicate with someone with dementia.
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It explains: “You and the person you care for will have to change how you communicate with each other as their dementia progresses.
“This can be upsetting and frustrating for the person with dementia and their carers, friends and family.
“If the person with dementia is not able to express themselves, they can lose confidence, feel anxious or depressed, or become withdrawn.
“They may have trouble finding the right word, may repeat words and phrases, or may use one word when they mean another.
“Because they are unable to communicate in the way they are used to, you may find that they get frustrated or that their behaviour becomes challenging or difficult to understand. “
How to communicate with someone with dementia
The NHS highlights the importance of body language and contact when communicating with someone who has dementia.
“Communication is not just talking,” the health body says.
“Gestures, movement and facial expressions can all convey meaning or help you get a message across.
“Body language and physical contact become significant when speech is difficult for a person with dementia.”
Therefore, if someone is having difficulty talking or understanding you should:
- Be patient and remain calm, which can help the person communicate more easily
- Keep your tone of voice positive and friendly, where possible
- Talk to them at a respectful distance to avoid intimidating them – being at the same level or lower than they are (for example, if they are sitting) can also help
- Pat or hold the person’s hand while talking to them to help reassure them and make you feel closer – watch their body language and listen to what they say to see whether they’re comfortable with you doing this.
Other symptoms of dementia include:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct Change when shopping
- Being confused about time and place
- Mood changes.
If you think someone you know is showing signs of dementia you should seek medical help.
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