The effects of dementia on a person go from mild to severe, depending on the stage of the disease. Also, they may vary from person to person.
In other words, not all experience the same impact of dementia on their mental and physical state.
Since we are continuously doing researches and studies, you can later come back to this article and find new effects that we will add.
As a caregiver, family member or relative, it is crucial to understand the main and most common effects of dementia.
This way, you will easier recognize the disease and seek help from a doctor. Not to mention, if a person with dementia experiences rapid mood swings, you know it is not you who is the source of the circumstance.
While this might be HARD to comprehend, you need to develop a thick skin when you are around a person with dementia.
Let the effects of the disease have no impact on you.
Typical Effects Of Dementia On A Person
1. Poor nutrition
A person with dementia suffers from different emotional and physical symptoms. These can include severe loss of appetite or the loss of willingness to ingest meals.
As a normal person without any mental incapacity, it is already typical for everyone to skip a meal when experiencing constipation or toothaches.
Thus, imagine what a person with dementia who is constantly suffering from emotional and physical pain goes through and the (poor) nutrition they consequently get from these sufferings.
Additionally, another cause of poor nutrition may be traced to communication problems such that a person affected with dementia may have difficulty indicating his hunger.
Another factor could also be the lack of appetite due to frequent changes in medication. This can also cause (rapid) weight loss in patients with dementia.
If a person is in pain, it is normal that their behavior or mood may suddenly change without their awareness.
Aggression is another effect of dementia that may be seen in a person suffering from this kind of mental incapacity.
There are two major factors why can a person with dementia act or show aggression.
1. First is a physical abnormality.
The stress caused by physical changes to the body can affect his or her inhibitions and make them less aware of what kind of behavior is appropriate.
They may also have less tolerance for environmental changes since the surroundings may be too busy or overwhelming.
Temperature intolerance is also another reason for aggression. It is a fact that these physical changes may lead to another factor – psychological abnormality.
2. Psychological abnormality is the second factor. With this, the person affected may feel disrespected.
For example, a person may feel that he is being prevented from doing things he ought to do.
3. Reduced hygiene
It is quite normal for people with dementia to forget or neglect personal hygiene, dressing and grooming.
They may skip basic activities such as:
1. Bathing, as fear of water can sometimes be a problem.
The person may not be able to gauge the depth or temperature of the water and will be frightened to step into it.
2. Changing clothes, as changing clothes is essential for hygiene and personal freshness.
However, a person with dementia might just skip changing clothes, keep wearing the same old ones.
Thus, they might need a bit of encouragement removing dirty clothes at the end of the day and putting on clean ones the next.
Being a person who loses interest in life inevitably loses his interest in cleaning himself regularly as well.
Dementia is both a mental and a physical torture where one’s psychological well-being could really get affected.
Once affected, it causes one’s brain to be overly stressed, thus, making a person emotionally and mentally weak.
Accordingly, this is how a person with dementia develops anxiety.
He or she will start to be frightened of everything. According to the video presentation, a person with anxiety caused by dementia will be extremely withdrawn from a crowd.
It is because a crowd makes them suffocated and anxious.
An anxiety attack can be distinguished when one is experiencing heart palpitations.
Anxiety also activates a natural stress response which causes the body to increase perspiration or sweating.
Additionally, one can also experience shortness of breath during an anxiety attack.
5. Sleep disorder
A person suffering from dementia is also experiencing problems in sleeping. It is because their memory seemingly becomes worse after a bad night.
However, according to studies, sleep disorders usually afflict a person in the later stage of dementia.
As the disease progresses, the damage to a person’s brain becomes more extensive and he or she gradually becomes weaker and frailer over time.
This one may be the least experienced effect of dementia but it is still essential to know how dementia affects one’s sleeping patterns.
If you see a loved one oversleeping all throughout the night or spending their time sleeping all day time and even finds themselves sleepy regularly, such circumstances may indicate that a person’s condition is getting worse.
When a person is suffering from dementia, his or her common response with regard to their usual routines is having uncontrollable mood swings.
Sometimes, the person becomes extremely jolly or too fearful.
Their inability to complete simple daily tasks at home, work or in school leads to multiple frustrations, and a buildup of demotivation and mental breakdowns.
These instances unconsciously lead a person to develop depression and anxiety.
Depression is the most prominent mental health problem of a person with dementia.
In some cases, symptoms of depression are often confused with the early stages of dementia but both of which are actually related to one another.
7. Communication challenges
Dementia makes it difficult for a person to speak or to communicate, and this can be upsetting. This is another effect of dementia that can make a person frustrated.
You might hear persons affected using filler words most of the time when trying to express themselves.
It is because they are having trouble finding the right words/sentences on how they can describe what they feel, what they want to eat, or even what they want to do.
Besides, a person with dementia may repeat words or phrases and stutter every time they try to communicate with other people.
We all need to communicate regarding our needs, wishes, and feelings. Losing the ability to communicate effectively negatively changes the quality of our life.
According to Enomwoyi Damali, living with her mother who has dementia has taken some time adjusting to. Her mother usually asks her the same things over and over again a hundred times.
In the latter part of this mental illness, this effect of dementia occurs and becomes cognizable.
The cause of repetitiveness is the feeling of being anxious and frightened as well as seeking comfort, security, and reassurance.
A person affected with dementia may also have trouble understanding what’s going around him or her because of memory incapacity, hesitations, loss of feeling for a time and even boredom.
Always try to remember that the person is not difficult on purpose as this effect could be more frustrating to them more than what you feel every time you listen to him or her.
9. Trouble adapting to the environment
A sudden change in surroundings could really make a person hard to adapt.
This is an impact of dementia wherein a person does not enjoy changes as much as what he or she was used to.
Small changes could incite negative emotions in the person who is suffering from dementia, and changes from the environment can also result in confusion and feelings of being frightened frequently.
A constant change in one’s environment can also result in anxiety attacks.
A person who is having a hard time concentrating, thinking, and expressing one’s emotions might not accept or totally reject adaptation to the environment.
10. Irritability and mood swings
In the mid and especially late stages, a person who has dementia may begin to lose control of his impulses.
This is the most alarming effect of dementia, which may lead to hurting another person emotionally.
A person who has dementia may even say tactless things, like “Gosh, you look old!”, which they would never say before.
In the later stage, more aggressive acts often seem to come out of nowhere, including cursing, arguing, shouting, and even threatening.
As dementia gets worse, the person loses tolerance for a lot of things and situations which makes his or her mood change constantly.
11. Stressed family relationship
Engaging with a person suffering from dementia in the house can be quite stressful, not only to the one in charge but also to the one taking care of the person with this mental illness.
A person with this kind of brain incapacity requires a lot of attention, understanding, and patience.
It could also be so tiring doing the routine regularly. This engagement could cause a domino effect with other family members.
Recognition could be a problem as well and should already be expected, as the person affected may not recognize anyone of the family members when things get worse.
A person may only remember their parents; or in the worst-case scenario, no one.
If one is sad, he is most likely to feel sluggish and lazy for a short time.
If one is depressed, he or she is unable to get the strength to be motivated which may persist for months – even years.
For a person diagnosed with dementia, it is twice as worse.
An individual who is dealing with the effects of dementia often loses the eagerness to fight it or looking at life with a positive outlook.
Now that his mental capability slowly weakens, his reason for living and fighting for the people whom he used to know and care for dies.
Anxiety and depression are two of the common reasons why a person especially suffering from dementia can be demotivated.
These certain groups of people need tons of genuine moral, financial, and emotional support from family members friends to make them feel secured, well-attended, loved and respected.
And that no matter what happens, there is always a reason to look forward to another day even if they do not remember how to anymore.
13. Trouble learning new things
If your loved one is diagnosed with dementia (predominately any type), one of the effects is trouble/difficulty learning new things and solving problems.
It becomes very evident that even if you repeat them what to do several times, not only do they not show interest in it, they are struggling, too.
Offer a helping hand and together solve the task.
The last thing you would want to do is to start screaming and yelling at them.
Unfortunately, this is part of the progression of dementia. Instead, you should introduce all sorts of different dementia activities which will help keep their brain active.
Said that, keep them engaged in various exercises as often as possible for as long as possible. This will slow down the process of dementia, worsening their well-being.
14. Unable to concentrate
Unfortunately, with the progression of dementia, a patient will eventually have a hard time concentrating and focusing. Their attention span will decrease drastically, too.
In some instances, the slightest distraction can put them off, almost forgetting what they were doing just seconds ago.
As a caregiver, family member or friend, in these situations, patients matter most. One thing you must absolutely not do is to argue with the person.
It is an unpleasant effect of dementia that we cannot avoid but alleviate.
With different exercises, like opposite cards and other fun memory activities, you can contribute to the lack of their concentration, aiming to boost the attention span.
Most importantly, always keep calm.