By Dr Srikant Sharma, Psychiatry
Dementia is a disorder of old age characterized by a decline in mental capabilities in a person. It is primarily caused by Alzheimer’s disease but can also be caused by damage to the brain from an injury or a stroke. The cells of the brain fail to communicate with each other in dementia. People suffering from dementia have difficulties in taking part in regular activities as their mental functioning is impaired.
The major symptoms of dementia are problems in recalling, ineffective communication, inability to concentrate and impaired reasoning abilities. It may also affect the short-term memory of a person when he/she may be unable to keep track of his/her belongings. Dementia can be progressive where the symptoms gradually increase with age.
Some early symptoms of dementia are-
1. Mood changes
Excessive mood swings along with changes in personality are very common symptoms of dementia. For instance- a reserved person suddenly becoming very outgoing is a commonly observed change in cases of dementia.
2. Problems in completing routine tasks
If a person suddenly starts to face problems in doing routine work such as maintaining simple accounts and paying bills then it can early signs of dementia.
When a person starts to get confused in remembering small details and recognizing faces, it could point towards dementia.
Dementia causes people to repeat words they have just said as the short term memory gets impaired. It also causes people to repeat small tasks a multiple number of times.
5. Losing interest
A person may start to lose interest in regular activities and avoid them altogether. They may appear devoid of emotions and not engage socially.
People fail to communicate effectively as they may be unable to express their thoughts clearly. They may also fail to understand when others communicate with them.
7. Impaired sense of direction
A person may fail to recognize places and wander around. He/she will face problems in going to places or in remembering places.