Understanding what dementia feels like can be challenging, especially for those who haven’t experienced it directly. But it’s crucial to empathize with those living with this condition. Dementia is a general term, not a specific ailment. This term covers many types of cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form.
According to the National Institute on Aging, dementia is the loss of thinking, remembering, and reasoning. Here, you’ll learn about the various aspects of dementia from the perspective of someone living with it.
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Experiencing Memory Loss
Memory loss is one of the most well-known symptoms of dementia. If you have dementia, you might find it hard to recall recent events, conversations, or even the names of familiar people and places. This is not simply a matter of forgetting where you left your phone, keys, or credit card. It is a more profound and persistent issue. You might repeat questions because you don’t remember asking them or the answers given to you.
Difficulty with Familiar Tasks
Daily activities can become challenging. You might struggle with tasks that were once second nature, such as cooking a meal, using a phone, or managing finances. This change can be frustrating and disorienting. You may start a task and forget what you were doing midway through it.
Changes in Communication
Expressing thoughts and understanding others can become difficult. You might find it hard to follow conversations or to find the right words. Sometimes, you might say something but mean something entirely different, which can be confusing for both you and the listener.
Mood and Personality Changes
Dementia can affect your mood and personality. You might feel anxious, irritable, or depressed. Social situations can become overwhelming, leading to withdrawal from friends and activities you once enjoyed. There might be sudden mood swings that are hard to explain.
Altered Perception and Disorientation
You could experience changes in perception. This might include difficulty with depth perception or seeing things that aren’t there, known as hallucinations. Time and place can become confusing. For instance, you might wake up not knowing what part of the day it is, or you might not recognize a place you’ve been to many times before.
Coping with Changes
As dementia progresses, you might become more aware of your limitations, which can be distressing. Adapting to these changes is challenging. You might find comfort in routine and familiarity, as they provide a sense of security in an increasingly confusing world.
Impact on Independence
Losing independence is a significant concern. You might find that you need more help from others, even for basic things like dressing or bathing. This reliance can be hard to accept, especially if you’ve been independent your whole life.
How Others Can Help
Support from family and friends is vital. They can help maintain a sense of normalcy and provide the care needed. It’s important for them to be patient and understanding and to listen, even when communication is difficult.
Seeking Medical Support
Early diagnosis can help manage some symptoms of dementia. If you or someone you know is showing signs of dementia, it’s essential to talk to your healthcare specialist. They can offer guidance and treatment possibilities to manage the condition effectively.