Elderly man: how to distinguish old age from dementia? Test
We are accustomed to the fact that with age people always have some health problems, and they are taken for granted. That is why in many families it often happens that the mental health of a grandmother or grandfather gradually deteriorates over many years, but it does not occur to anyone to see a doctor.
When it turns out that the violations have already gone far and time is missed, the patient’s relatives are genuinely surprised: “We all blamed everything on age”. And even many doctors, in response to the complaints of a seventy-year-old man to a decrease in memory, respond: “What do you want? This is age. ”
There is also a stereotype that in old age it is natural to be in a depressed state. It is believed that "old age is not joy" and the elderly person is characterized by apathy, sadness and "weariness from life."
In fact, constant depression and unwillingness to live is not the norm for any age. These are symptoms of a disorder, which is called depression, and it is treated with special drugs - antidepressants.
The table describes the conditions that can be considered normal for the elderly, and those that indicate the disease.
How to recognize dementia
|Norm||Symptom of illness|
|Some narrowing of interests, decrease in activity (for example, more time than before, a person spends at home).||Apathy, inaction, neglect of washing, changing clothes.|
|Understanding the way of life, awareness of their mortality, care about what remains after his death (solving the problems of inheritance, saving for the funeral), without focusing on this topic.||Constant thoughts about death, talk that “healed”, “it's time to die”, “became a burden”, etc.|
|The pleasure is delivered not by those occupations that earlier.||No pleasure from any activity.|
|Easy forgetfulness that does not interfere in everyday life. For example, you can forget about some event, but remember if they tell about it.||Forgetfulness violates everyday life. Lost skills. Forgetting about the event, the person does not remember him, even if you recall.|
|Sleep 6-7 hours a day, the tendency to go to bed early and get up early. Awakenings 1-2 times per night (for example, to use the toilet), after which there are no problems with falling asleep.||Sleep less than 6 hours a day, multiple awakenings, drowsiness during the day.|
|Adherence to the old experience, cautious attitude to change the usual way of life. Storage of old things that are associated with memories.||Statements that someone (usually close people or neighbors) are harmful or hostile, stealing things, etc. Picking up trash and garbage on the street.|
It is very important to recognize the painful manifestations as soon as possible, after looking closely at your relatives, and to consult a doctor as soon as possible if problems show up. Timely treatment will help extend the years of decent life to our loved ones.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a loss of cognitive, or, as experts say, cognitive, abilities, that is, memory, attention, speech, orientation in space and others. With dementia, cognitive abilities are steadfastly impaired, that is, it is not a temporary deterioration of the mental state, such as during an acute illness.
Some deterioration in memory of recent events is natural for the elderly, and this phenomenon is called benign forgetfulness. When violations reach the degree of dementia, people have difficulty in performing household chores, which previously were easy. If normally a person can make his forgetfulness visible only to him, then with dementia, changes are visible first to close people, and then to everyone around him.
Memory loss and loss of everyday skills are not normal for any age. It is always the result of illness or injury.
How to recognize dementia in the early stages: a test
In different types of dementia, the symptoms may vary and appear in different sequences. Typically, dementia in Alzheimer's disease develops gradually, and often close ones hardly remember when the patient showed the first changes. Most often, a doctor is consulted at a time when it is no longer possible to slow down the process and few medicines that can improve the condition no longer work.
A person is likely to develop dementia if:
- he constantly loses important things: keys, documents, etc .;
- puts things in places completely alien to them;
- suspects that lost things have been stolen, not susceptible to dissuasion;
- many times asks again the same thing, forgetting the answer;
- hardly focused on the street;
- makes blunders in what was previously easy (for example, filling out receipts).
Even one of the listed signs is a reason to contact a neurologist or a psychiatrist.
On the Internet you can find many tests that are used to assess their own cognitive abilities. One of the most simple and reliable - the task to draw a clock. A person is asked to draw a round dial with all the numbers and hands so that they show a specific time, for example, four hours and thirty minutes.
A healthy person easily copes with this task. With the development of dementia, errors in this test begin to manifest themselves very early: for example, the “mirror” arrangement of numbers, the numbers 13, 14 on the dial, etc. Usually at this point, problems that may alarm the family are already noticeable in everyday life. No need to wait for them to disappear: the sooner you go to a doctor, the more opportunities for treatment will be received by your own person.
How does dementia develop
Most often, it begins with a decrease in memory of recent events: a person begins to forget about important agreements. Errors appear in complex cases: cash payments, equipment management. Unexpectedly, it turns out that a person can no longer master anything new, for example, when changing a washing machine does not remember a new way to turn it on. Over time, only old, well-learned knowledge remains in the memory, and then they begin to be lost - from newer to older ones.
It becomes noticeable sensitivity of a person with dementia to a change in the situation, inability to endure change. Sometimes the symptoms of the disease are clearly manifested after the death of a spouse (spouse). Such a sharp deterioration can be associated not only with grief and depression, but also with the need to completely restructure the way of life and take on the tasks that were previously performed by the spouse.
Gradually, the patient loses household skills, and the orientation in space and time suffers the most. Initially, it becomes difficult to navigate in completely unfamiliar places, then a person can get lost even near his own home.
For a pensioner, it is understandable to make mistakes for one day in the number or day of the week, but with dementia, a person incorrectly names even a month and a year. It becomes difficult to determine the time by the clock, many "confuse day with night": after waking up after a nap, they decide that it is already morning.
Gradually, there are difficulties with planning the simplest actions: the patient cannot cook, dress, tie shoelaces, wash, brush his teeth. In the later stages, even such seemingly obvious skills as object recognition and walking are “forgotten”.
Speech is gradually lost: at first, his own speech becomes poor, a person forgets words, replacing them with meaningless phrases, for example, "this is the most." Over time, the understanding of speech, heard and read, is also disturbed, and this process is not associated with impairment of hearing. If the patient does not fulfill your requests, think about whether he understands what you said. Perhaps he does not recognize the meaning of individual words, or your speech for him is already not a meaningful set of sounds.
As the disease affects the parts of the brain responsible for movement, the person becomes more awkward, walks with a shuffling gait, mimicry becomes poor. At the last stage of the disease, the patient learns how to walk.