Dementia is a nightmare for many, especially if you have a demented family member in your midst, experience the torments of living with dementia up close and see the continued decline of your loved one’s mental capabilities. Fortunately, not every forgetfulness is also dementia. We all forget sometimes and that gets worse as we get older. But what is dementia and what signs can you recognize dementia by?
Dementia in the Netherlands and the Delta Plan
- What is dementia?
- Dementia as a collective name
- Ten signs of dementia
- Delta Plan Dementia
What is dementia?
Dementia is not one disease. The term dementia includes various disorders in which the intellectual abilities deteriorate. It can occur at a young age, but in general it is an ailment that comes with old age. Forgetting things is one of the signs of dementia, but every forgetfulness is not a precursor to it. When memory starts to work less well, we speak of forgetfulness. We then forget the name of that one person, cannot think of the title of a book and falter at the name of a grandchild’s friend. If you take a step back, get a hint or quietly review what you hope to retrieve from memory, you usually come up with the word or name. We know again. Sometimes it helps to walk back to the kitchen, where we said the name earlier. It is a forgetfulness that can get worse with age. It’s difficult but you can live with it. You can function, work and travel as usual. This is different with dementia.
Dementia is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain. The nerve cells themselves break down or the connections between the nerve cells fail, causing the brain to function less and less and the person suffering from dementia to recognize, know and be able to do less and less.
Problems with new information
With dementia it becomes more difficult to remember new things. New information does not stick and old information is difficult to retrieve, inaccessible or has disappeared completely. With dementia, not only knowledge of a name disappears, but also recognition of the person. The person with dementia no longer knows who is standing in front of him. Is it a loved one or an enemy? That uncertainty makes you restless. Someone with dementia can no longer cope well in daily life and can even pose a danger to themselves and others.
Dementia as a collective name
The collective term dementia includes more than fifty diseases in which a gradual decline in mental abilities can be observed. All these diseases lead to a gradual decline in mental functioning.
- Alzheimer’s disease;
- Vascular dementia;
- Pick’s disease;
- Lewy body dementia.
Ten signs of dementia
There are ten symptoms that indicate dementia.
- Problems with everyday things
- Mixing time and place
- Problems with language
- Losing stuff
- Deteriorating judgment
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Behavioral changes
- Problems with vision.
Forgetting new things is the most common signal that something is wrong. Forgetting important dates and events can also be a sign of dementia.
Problems with everyday things
If the daily actions, the things that are normal, become problematic, that is a sign. For example, if something as simple as making coffee no longer works, this could be a sign of dementia.
Changing time and place
The incipient person with dementia increasingly mistakes place and time. He increasingly no longer knows what day it is and loses track of time. He also increasingly does not know how he ended up in a place.
Problems with language
Following a conversation can become increasingly difficult. Repetitions occur and simple words just won’t come up. Things are no longer named because the word for them can no longer be found. Talking becomes more difficult.
A person with dementia can put things in unusual places and then not find them again. Stuff gets lost.
Situations are becoming increasingly difficult to assess. It happens that a person with dementia spends large sums of money without knowing what he is doing. Shopping becomes problematic.
Withdrawal from social activities
A person with dementia becomes increasingly unable to participate in social activities, causing them to withdraw and undertake less and less activities.
The behavior and character of the person with dementia can change. The mood may change suddenly and he may become confused and suspicious. Anxiety and depression also occur. The person with dementia becomes different from what he was.
Dementia often causes restlessness in the person with dementia, which manifests itself in a continuous search for something or walking without stopping. It disrupts the wake-sleep rhythm.
Problems with vision
The brain of a person with dementia is increasingly unable to process what the eyes see. Visibility becomes less and estimating distances more difficult.
Delta Plan Dementia
In 2013, then Minister Schippers (VVD) and State Secretary Martin van Rijn (PvdA) of Health decided to invest in scientific research into dementia. Despite the cutbacks, 32.5 million euros will be allocated for this. It is called the Dementia Delta Plan. Specialists hope to find an effective drug. As the population ages, the number of dementia patients will also increase: one in five Dutch people will suffer from dementia symptoms. Healthcare costs will therefore increase alarmingly. That justifies the investment in research. In addition to the research, Deltaplan Dementia is working on a program about care and making the Netherlands dementia-friendly.
Delta Plan Dementia has its own website.
Alzheimer Nederland participates in the Delta Plan for Dementia and has been drawing attention to the disease since 1984. They do this through:
- a website;
- collection week;
- support for people with dementia and their loved ones.
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