While often incorrectly considered a disease, dementia actually refers to a group of symptoms which negatively affect memory and social abilities, resulting in an interference with daily functioning. Primarily, problems with memory and impaired judgment or language are the two major areas affected by dementia. However, numerous other causes and symptoms of dementia exist, which can make diagnosis and treatment difficult or even impossible. But now, health researchers have found that nearly 47 million people are living with dementia globally which is a major increased from 35 million in 2009. The question is why is this increasing so rapidly? They warned that there hasn't been a medical breakthrough and the numbers will likely continue to grow every 20 or so years.
Researchers from Alzheimer’s Disease International say about 58 percent of all people with dementia live in developing countries and that by 2050, nearly half of all those with the disease will live in Asia. Numbers are expected to rise with aging populations and as more cases are identified.
There are 7.7 million new cases of dementia every year in the world, according to the World Health Organization.
Experts estimate the cost of treating dementia could jump to $1 trillion in just three years and called for governments to adopt legislation to ensure better treatment for people with the disease. There is no known cure for dementia.
Symptoms of Dementia
1. MEMORY LOSS
—Obviously this is the major one. You or your loved ones may notice memory loss affects the daily routine the most.
Patients may experience subtle short-term memory changes:
- Ability to focus and pay attention
- Reasoning and judgment
- Visual perception
Cognitive changes should be expected such as difficulty with:
- Following storylines
- Finding the right wording
- Communicating or finding words
- Complex tasks
- Planning and organizing
- Coordination and motor functions
- Problems with disorientation, such as getting lost
2. PSYCHOLOGICAL CHANGES
- Personality changes
- Inability to reason
- Inappropriate behavior
3. DECLINING MOTOR SKILLS
As the condition progresses, difficulty with motor functions and coordination will arise. Patients will lose the ability to do small daily tasks like going to the bathroom or getting dressed.
An example could be getting lost on the way to the same grocery store you've been shopping in for years. Disorientation can be a subtle symptom but should be paid attention to.
5. BEHAVIORAL CHANGES
Personality changes such as opposite manners or personality traits—for example, becoming cranky when you were always easy going, becoming blissful when you always seemed irritable, or just being inappropriate in public can signify the onset of Dementia.
Being repetitive is also a common symptom of dementia. If repeating daily tasks like showering or other obsessive behaviors.
6. CONFUSION, PARANOIA, DISORGANIZATION
Signs of confusion, frustration, paranoia and disorganization are common signs of dementia. When memory or thinking or judgement lapses, confusion arises making it difficult to find the right words or interact with people normally. From here, frustration occurs increasing paranoia.
7. STRUGGLING TO ADAPT TO CHANGE
In the early stages of dementia, patients may suddenly start to forget the people they know and also their daily actions.
8. A FAILING SENSE OF DIRECTION
Sense of direction and spatial orientation are also affected. These are common functions of thinking that start to deteriorate with the onset of dementia. This can translate to now recognizing once-familiar landmarks and forgetting regularly used directions. It also becomes more difficult to follow a series of directions or step-by-step instructions.
9. MOOD SWINGS
Changes in mood are also common with dementia. Loved ones often notice this. Depression, for instance, is typical in the early stages of dementia. Along with mood changes, personality changes also occur. A typical sign is a shift from being shy to outgoing from judgement being affected through the disease.
Hallucinations or delusional thoughts are often experienced by dementia patients, most commonly visual (seeing things that aren't there) or auditory (hearing noises that aren’t there). Hallucinations could be a perception of an event, objects, or person that’s sensory in nature, meaning patients with Alzheimer’s can actually feel, hear, see, taste, and smell things that don’t really exist.