Dementia in the elderly (usually caused by Alzheimer’s) is a slow and progressive disease. The early signs might go unnoticed, but even when they are apparent relatives can often attribute them to the natural decline in function that is an inevitable part of the aging process. But signs of dementia are not part of the natural aging process, so what are the common dementia symptoms in elderly people?
Memory loss is usually one of the first dementia symptoms in elderly patients. Forgetting the names of familiar friends and family, or losing things and not remembering where they placed them is a common sign of progressive dementia in elderly people.
Having problems with performing simple daily tasks usually becomes more noticeable as the disease slowly takes hold. Old people might slow down in later life, but if they start to neglect their daily routine and forget to eat or take care of personal hygiene, it could be because of dementia. Elderly people with dementia also tend to have difficulties with tasks such as managing money or driving. They might hand over inappropriate sums of money to tradesmen, or become confused when they need to pay for something. Driving is another routine task that will be affected.
An elderly person showing the symptoms of dementia will often have difficulties with speech. They might forget the names of everyday objects, or struggle to find the correct words for a sentence. They might also start calling family members and household objects by the wrong names.
Changes in behaviour in elderly patients with dementia are common. The person might begin to withdraw from social activities and stop taking part in things they previously enjoyed. They will probably lose interest in meeting friends and the outside world in general. Alternatively, if they were always a quiet type, they might suddenly become inappropriately sociable and start to behave in an uncharacteristic way.
Paranoia and aggression is often one of the dementia symptoms in elderly people. As the signs of the disease become more apparent, the patient might become increasingly aggressive and hostile towards relatives and friends. They might accuse them of stealing belongings, or trying to take them away from familiar places, and this aspect of the disease is often one of the most upsetting and difficult to deal with as appears as if the person you knew and loved is no longer present.
Showing signs of distress and confusion in unfamiliar surroundings is common in dementia patients. When taken to somewhere different, they will become disoriented and upset and want to go home again. If placed in a care home, the patient will often try and escape, which is why care homes for dementia patients always have high levels of security on doors and windows.
Dementia is a slow and progressive disease and it can take months or even years for the patient to worsen to the point where they are no longer able to take care of themselves. Eventually, however, an elderly person with dementia will need help to perform even the simplest of tasks and will be completely unable to look after themselves.