Dementia: how to understand that a loved one needs the help of a doctor
It's amazing that people with developing dementia continue to work. They are not able to generate new ideas and do not show labor feats, however, they remember well the usual routes (from home to office, from office to dining room) and the algorithms of their professional activities. And approximately as long as they do not do something, for example, they don’t go out to the smoking-room in their underwear, or they storm the office of the head with a basin taken away from the cleaner on their poor head, they are not fired.
To "oddities" of close people, especially the elderly, it is not accepted to be taken seriously. However, dementia often begins with trifles. If you notice them in time and start treatment, the patient has a real chance to maintain a high quality of life.
With dementia there is a degradation of intellectual abilities, mental functions, motivation, will, behavior and emotional response change for the worse. The subtle structure of personality, which makes each person unique, is destroyed.
Possible signs of onset of dementia
- Neglect of personal hygiene. Genetics say that a special "senile" smell is inevitable, a sign of the decay of all organs and systems. However, if an older person cannot be forced to take a shower, you need to figure out why this happens. Fear of falling in the bathroom can be overcome by using special equipment for bathing elderly and weak people. But pathological forgetfulness, when a person does not remember whether he was washed or not, or cannot understand where the bathroom is located, requires the advice of a neurologist.
- Apathy. Decrease of interest in the life of an elderly person is manifested in the fact that he prefers to sit in one place and watch TV. Calls to friends stop, attempts to go for a walk at least to the next entrance. Loss of interest in the news in the world and even in your own family. Apathy can be a symptom of dementia beginning, but sometimes it is a sign of depression. In any case, the help of a doctor is necessary.
- Poor orientation in space. At the beginning, an elderly person may experience uncertainty when visiting a new place.Usually, the patient rationalizes his fear by talking about “old age” or “unwillingness” to go anywhere on his own. And at this stage it is important to give a close elderly person new impressions. A walk in the park in the next block or a joint visit to the museum will help to maintain not only kinship relations, but also fading intellectual and mental functions. If a person starts to get confused "in the three pines" and is able to get lost, literally leaving the entrance, is already a disturbing sign.
- Increased appetite. If a person does not remember when he ate, does not feel satiated, and can endlessly study the refrigerator for something sweet, fried or fat, it is likely that he has problems - and not a gastroenterological fact. Morbidly increased appetite can be a symptom of organic brain damage or a sign of a psychiatric illness.
- Silly jokes. If an elderly person suddenly begins to joke flatly “below the belt,” as if having lost the ability to assess the relevance of his wits in a given situation, this could also be a symptom of brain damage.
- Insomnia. A sign of approaching dementia is sometimes a change in daily biorhythms inherent in a healthy person.An elderly person can restlessly sleep, wander at night, like a somnambulist, see some mysterious pictures and small animals on the walls, hear sounds that no one else hears. You should not look for the mystical reasons for this behavior and sprinkle the walls with holy water. It is much more effective to take a loved one to be examined by a doctor.
- "Difficult character. It is believed that with age, the character deteriorates: there are whims, touchiness, irritability. This is partly true. With age, atrophy of the cerebral cortex occurs, the structure of the limbic system and the frontal lobes, which are responsible for emotions, their expression and control, changes, and to a greater or lesser extent this is a genetic lottery. However, the chances of "winning" are increased if you keep intellectual and physical activity until old age, do not smoke, do not abuse alcohol, eat more fiber and less simple carbohydrates. It is important to notice in time that the “difficult” nature acquires pathological features. If an elderly person accuses his relatives of wanting to get him from the light (poison food in the refrigerator, pour poison into the soup, irradiate the computer with a weak heart,etc.), and the neighbors - in the installation of listening devices, then you need to gently convince him to appear to the doctor under the pretext of checking the pressure, prescribing medications or after some other reason.
What to do if you notice alarming symptoms in a loved one?
- Refer to the neurologist. The specialist will conduct special tests that will help determine what is more disturbed: memory, attention, processing or analysis of information, orientation in space, certain skills (counting, writing, etc.). You should not be surprised if the doctor gives a recommendation to be thoroughly examined by other specialists: a therapist, a cardiologist, an endocrinologist, an oculist. Sometimes a banal and seemingly "scary" disease, such as a decrease in thyroid function, can lead to the complete destruction of a person’s personality (fortunately, this is a reversible problem). Therefore, the doctor may advise to make an ultrasound of the heart or blood vessels, daily blood pressure monitoring or ECG, donate blood or urine for research. Dementia is not necessarily the destiny of the elderly.Therefore, listed anxiety symptoms can be detected in a middle-aged person, and sometimes - in a very young person.
- Sign up for an MRI of the brain. The neurologist gives a recommendation on the examination regime, so do not rush to guide a loved one to the procedure before receiving a doctor. MRI of the brain helps to identify the organic causes of the disease: a tumor, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease and much more.
The treatment in each case is individual and depends on the cause of the “weirdness”. Therefore, it is important to conduct a survey and understand that a dropper with vascular preparations is not a universal solution to all problems. What ordinary people call "senile marasmus" is not always the result of age-related changes in the brain.
Often the patient requires an integrated approach: daily feasible physical exertion, training in simple recipes for healthy and tasty food, creating a comfortable psychological environment, correction of blood pressure, treatment of associated diseases that can seriously worsen the condition. It does not do without an individual plan for taking medicines.It is important for an elderly person to give the opportunity to communicate with friends and family, feel needed and loved, read interesting books and devote time to other hobbies, if any. This will help maintain a healthy curiosity for life and maintain its acceptable quality to a very old age.
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