What Aspects of My Overall Health Can Dementia Affect

What Aspects of My Overall Health Can Dementia Affect

More than 6 million Americans are suffering from dementia, a progressive disease that tends to become much more common as we age. Dementia is responsible for more deaths every year than prostate and breast cancers combined.

Most people think of dementia in terms of its effects on memory and cognition. But dementia can affect health in many other ways, too. Understanding those effects may help you identify dementia earlier, so you and your loved ones can take steps to help manage its symptoms.

At Primary Care Associates, our team has extensive experience in helping patients learn all they can about dementia, including the many ways it can affect their lives, their thoughts, and their behaviors. In this post, our team reviews a few of the most common effects you and your loved ones should know about.

Psychological and cognitive effects

Memory loss and forgetfulness are perhaps the most common symptoms of dementia, but there are many underlying causes of memory problems. Dementia is just one possible cause. Other cognitive and psychological symptoms include:

Some people with dementia may forget directions when driving or become confused during an activity they’ve performed many times before.

Dementia can also cause personality changes, irritability, or agitation, along with mood disorders, like depression or anxiety. As dementia progresses, some people may become paranoid or exhibit inappropriate or uninhibited behavior. Hallucinations are also relatively common in the more advanced stages of dementia.

Physical effects

People with dementia may have increasing difficulty with tasks of daily living, like getting dressed, performing household tasks, or even cooking simple meals. Personal hygiene habits can also be affected. Some people may have difficulty brushing their teeth, bathing, or combing their hair, or they may forget to perform these activities.

Paying bills, balancing a checkbook, and even something as simple as using the TV remote can be confusing and frustrating for someone with dementia. Losing or misplacing items is also common. 

Eventually, sleeping patterns can be affected, increasing feelings of agitation and moodiness. Wandering and becoming lost in familiar places become more common. As dementia advances, it can affect motor skills, making it harder to walk or perform other coordinated activities.

Social effects

Not surprisingly, all these effects make it harder to maintain relationships. Forgetfulness can make it hard to remember social dates or special occasions. Over time, dementia can make it difficult to remember the names or faces of friends and loved ones.

Moodiness, agitation, irritability, and paranoia all interfere with the ability to maintain relationships. Increasing feelings of depression lead to social isolation, and out-of-the-ordinary events, like attending a party or other social event, can increase feelings of disorientation.

Dementia treatment

First of all, some dementia-like symptoms can be caused by other underlying medical problems, like immune problems, tumors, and infections. Even some nutritional deficiencies can cause symptoms that mimic dementia. Having a thorough evaluation, complete with lab work and other assessments, is essential for determining the cause of symptoms.

When dementia is incurable, there are ways to manage symptoms and, in some cases, delay the progression of dementia. The key, once again, is scheduling an evaluation as soon as possible. Once our team has a complete “picture” of your dementia and its symptoms, we can work with you and your loved ones to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that can help.

Learn more about dementia

If you think you or a loved one may have symptoms of dementia or if you’ve been diagnosed with dementia, you owe it to yourself to learn all you can about this all-too-common condition. Let us help you learn ways to manage the symptoms of dementia along with the underlying cause. 

To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone at our practices in Frederick or Clarksburg, Maryland.

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