Dementia: Brief Version

What is dementia?

Dementia is a brain problem that makes it harder for you to think and remember. You may have trouble taking care of yourself. These problems start slowly, but they get worse over time.

Here are some signs to look for. People with dementia may:

  • Have a hard time remembering things.
  • Look like they are confused, lost, or frightened.
  • Not be able to understand what they are doing.
  • Not be able to follow instructions.
  • Not know how to eat or take care of themselves.

They may also:

  • Not seem to have feelings or show emotions.
  • Seem restless and wander around a lot.
  • Not trust family and friends.

People with severe dementia may not be able to:

  • Control their bladder or bowels.
  • Get up and walk.
  • Chew or swallow.
  • Talk or think of words.
  • Recognize close friends or family members

They may wander away and get lost.

What is the cause?

Dementia happens when brain cells stop working right. This can be caused by things like:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Head injury

Other diseases can also cause dementia.

How is it treated?

There is no cure for dementia. Sometimes medicine can help some symptoms. Talk to your healthcare provider about what might help.

What happens to people with dementia?

People with dementia can live for many years. As time goes on, they may not be able to care for themselves.

Each person is different. Talk to your healthcare provider about what to expect.

What can a family member or friend do?

People with dementia may not know what they are doing. They may say or do hurtful things. It is good to remember that they cannot control how they act. Be patient with them.

It can be hard to know how to care for someone who has dementia. They may need care 24 hours a day. Keep these things in mind:

  • Make sure they are safe.
  • Decide what kind of care they need and who will give them care.
  • Give them choices when you can.
  • See that anyone caring for them treats them with respect.

Help the caregiver too. Give them a break or help them with errands.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-06-25
Last reviewed: 2014-06-24
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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