North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Health

June 24, 2009

Family members may be first to notice signs of dementia

Health Watch By Robert Sikes

The North Jefferson News




What do crossword puzzles, Sudoku and reading have in common?

Re-search has shown that these activities and other brain stimulating tasks can slow down the progression of dementia. Although the symptoms of dementia may be inevitable, mind stimulating tasks can help sharpen anyone’s memory.

Dementia can be described as the loss of mental skills that can affect your daily life. Usually it is progressive and develops over time.

Dementia is not a disease itself, but a compilation of symptoms including changes in mood, behavior, thinking ability and personality.

Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia and frontotemporal dementia are a few other diseases that are associated with dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and has been found to cause 50-60 percent of all cases.

So what causes dementia? Most commonly, increasing age causes dementia. Five to eight percent of those over age 65 will develop some kind of dementia. The incidence doubles every five years above 65.

Studies have shown that more than half of Americans will develop symptoms of dementia when they reach their 80s.



Signs and symptoms

Family members are usually the first to notice cognitive changes of their loved ones. Cognitive changes that develop quickly should be dealt with immediately, as this may be a sign of a more serious condition. Gradual memory loss or forgetfulness may be a sign of normal aging, but a decrease in daily functioning should be reported to your physician. It may also be a good idea to take a family to a physician appointment to describe the changes they have noticed. This may be the only way the doctor can fully understand the symptoms.

Some of the warning signs of dementia include a decrease in:

• learning and retaining new information

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