Dementia is a type of chronic illness which can result in a person having memory loss and personality changes. There are many different types of dementia, but the most common is Alzheimer’s. Follow this article to learn more about the different types of dementia and what are the signs of death in elderly with dementia.
Dementia is not a disease itself, rather it is used as a general term for impaired memory and a person’s inability to make any decision. Although dementia mostly affects elderly , it is considered as a part of a normal aging process. But it is also known as a chronic disease that affects a person’s mental ability and causes them to have memory loss, impaired reasoning, and some changes in their personality. Although there are many different types of dementia found in elderly, the most common is Alzheimer’s.
According to a survey research, 60% of the cases of dementia are Alzheimer’s and it is the leading cause of death in elderly. Although there is no definite cure for dementia, healthcare professionals are still working on this. It can be challenging and stressful for a person who has to have his/her loved one suffer from dementia because the patient may stop recognizing their dearest friends and family. A patient of dementia will need your love and care.
Follow this article to explore more about the different types of dementia and what are the signs of death in elderly with dementia.
Table of Contents
What are the different types of dementia?
Dementia is not an illness itself, it is a general term that is used for different types of illnesses. When a person is diagnosed with any form of dementia then, it gets worse overtime. It creates problems for a person regarding their behavior, memory, and thinking. Healthcare professionals identify dementia as a syndrome because it creates changes in a person’s brain overtime. There are many different types of dementia, the most common types are.
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Vascular dementia
- Dementia with lewy bodies
- Parkinson’s disease dementia
- Frontotemporal dementia
- Huntington’s dementia
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus
- Wernicke – Korasakoff syndrome
According to research, Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. Around 60% of the people who are diagnosed with dementia are suffering from Alzheimer’s. Most of the time when you tell someone that you have dementia, naturally they will think that you have Alzheimer’s. When a person is dealing with Alzheimer’s then, most of the time they will be confused even about the smallest things, like they will not know the day or year. They will have poor judgment, they will have problems when they are reading or writing, and their personality might also change.
Vascular dementia is related to a person having a stroke, which can be a major stroke or a small stroke. A small stroke can happen even without them realizing. When a person is suffering from vascular dementia then, the symptoms totally depend on the area of the brain that has been affected. They will have trouble speaking or understanding other people, most of the time they will be confused, and they will not be able to walk properly.
Dementia with lewy bodies:
This type of dementia occurs when there are deposits of protein present inside a person’s brain. These deposits mostly occur on the cortex of the brain. This type of dementia can cause problems for a person, they will not be able to make any decision, they will have a weak memory, they will face trouble in walking, and they might kick and walk when they are dreaming.
Parkinson’s disease dementia:
Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system disorder which 80% of the time also causes dementia. This type of dementia is similar to dementia with Lewy bodies because in both cases the dementia occurs when there are deposits inside a person’s brain. In both conditions a person will blank out or they might start seeing things that are not there.
When a person is diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia then, their brain cells are damaged and they will have a hard time controlling and judging. We all know that our brain is the organ of our body that controls everything from our movements to our emotions. When a person is suffering from frontotemporal dementia then, they will have problems with their emotions, balance problems, and they will face changes in their personality as well.
Huntington’s dementia occurs from a disease which is also known as Huntington’s disease. It is a genetic disorder but the symptoms do not show up before a person is at least 30 years of age. A person who is suffering from Huntington’s dementia will face problems when they are thinking, they will start to lose their memory, lack of judgment, and they will be unable to concentrate on their daily tasks.
Normal pressure hydrocephalus:
This form of dementia is developed in the brain through all the buildup fluid. A person who is suffering from normal pressure hydrocephalus will have trouble in walking, thinking, and concentration. Although this dementia has its treatment when doctors drain the excess fluid from the brain of the patient. But still it is not completely curable.
Wernicke – Korsakoff syndrome:
This form of dementia is developed in a person who has a shortage of Vitamin B-1 in their body. Most of the time it happens to people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs. The symptoms of this dementia also revolve around memory loss and lack of sleep. In this case, the movement of a person is not affected.
What are the common symptoms of dementia?
We know that dementia is not a single disease, rather it is a term used for different diseases. The symptoms depend on the type of dementia a person has been diagnosed with. But there are some common symptoms that are present in every type of dementia. Following are the common symptoms of dementia.
- Memory loss
- Speech problems
- Mood swings
- Difficulty in completing tasks
- Poor judgment
- Struggling to adapt change
The first symptom of having dementia is that a person will have trouble with their memory. A person who is suffering from dementia will show subtle signs of memory loss in the beginning, they will have a hard time remembering where they kept their things or if they had breakfast or not. They will forget to do even their basic everyday tasks.
This is another major sign of dementia that a person will have trouble finding the right words. A person who is suffering from dementia will have a hard time explaining themselves, they will stop in the middle and they will not be able to find the right words to continue. It is not easy to have a conversation with them because they will have a hard time expressing their thoughts and feelings.
It is common in dementia that a person will experience mood swings. Most of the time they will be anxious and stressed because of their memory loss. They will get angry if by any reason their daily routine is disturbed or they are in an unfamiliar environment. A person who is battling with dementia will also have some changes in their personality as well. One minute they will be shy and the next moment they will be outgoing.
In the early stages of dementia a person will often come across as confused. They will often have trouble remembering the faces of their loved ones or they will not remember what day it is or what month it is. They will forget where they kept their things and they will have difficulty recalling someone’s face after they met them.
Difficulty in completing tasks:
A person who is suffering from dementia will face difficulty in completing their tasks. This is one of the major signs of dementia along with memory loss. They will have a hard time even doing the tasks that they used to do frequently and they may also struggle to learn new things
A person will face poor judgment because of their impaired memory. A person who is suffering from dementia will also face cognitive decline and they will have a hard time while making decisions. This sign can also hurt their relationships, work, and other aspects of their life. This can even land them into dangerous situations.
Struggling to adapt change:
It is not easy for a person who has dementia to adapt to change like a normal person. They will get extremely irritated and angry when they have to do something that is not a part of their daily routine. Because of their speech problem they will not be able to express their feelings and thoughts and this will irritate them more. Not being able to adapt to change is a typical sign of dementia.
What are the stages of dementia?
Just like every other illness, dementia also has some stages which were introduced by the healthcare providers at Global Deterioration Scale. Following are the seven stages of dementia.
- Stage 1: No cognitive impairment
- Stage 2: Very mild cognitive impairment
- Stage 3: Mild cognitive impairment
- Stage 4: Moderate cognitive impairment
- Stage 5: moderately severe cognitive decline
- Stage 6: Severe cognitive decline
- Stage 7: Very severe cognitive decline
Stage 1: No cognitive impairment
It may seem hard to believe but there are no noticeable changes in a person at stage one of dementia. There is no decline in cognitive functioning at this stage. Everything seems normal at this stage and the symptoms do not show till stage two.
Stage 2: Very mild cognitive impairment
At this stage a person will start showing the signs of short term memory loss. They will forget about little things like their keys, turning off the gas, or forgetting about a person’s name. All of these signs start showing when a person reaches stage two of dementia. According to healthcare professionals this stage has a lot to do with the age of the person as well.
Stage 3: Mild cognitive impairment
When a person enters stage three of dementia then, memory loss becomes something regular, a part of their routine. At this stage a person will start facing decline in their cognitive functioning as well. Although these symptoms are mild they do have an impact on a person’s day to day life.
Stage 4: Moderate cognitive decline
Healthcare professionals suggest that at stage four of dementia the signs are pretty noticeable. There are changes in the patient’s personality. According to a survey research, a person is usually diagnosed with dementia until they reach stage four. Usually at this stage the dementia is getting worse day by day. There is a visible decline in cognitive functioning.
Stage 5: Moderately severe cognitive decline
This is also known as the mid stage of dementia. At this stage a person will no longer be able to carry out their daily routine properly. They will face trouble making a decision and their judgment will be impaired. At this stage a person who is suffering from dementia will need a caregiver who can keep an eye on them and take care of them. There is a chance that their memory loss can land them into a dangerous situation.
Stage 6: Severe cognitive decline
At this stage the dementia is getting severe and the patient will need a caregiver all the time. They will need help with basic tasks such as eating, bathing, using the toilet, and other things. At this stage a person will have trouble even when they are sleeping, they won’t be able to interact with others and convey their thoughts. At this stage a person is most likely to behave inappropriately when in public.
Stage 7: Very severe cognitive decline
This is also considered as the late stage of dementia. At this stage a person who is suffering from dementia is longer themself. They lose their ability to communicate with others and there is no movement as they become physically impaired. They do not have the energy to chew or swallow their food, all of their food will be given to them through a tube.
What are the signs of death in elderly with dementia?
It is not easy for someone to watch their loved ones taking their final breath. Initially you may not know what to do, but it is very important for you to know the end of life symptoms. The signs are different for every illness. The signs of death in elderly with dementia are as follows.
- Appetite changes
- Sleeping more
- Anxiety and depression
- Urinary and bladder incontinence
- Changes in vital signs
- Sensory changes
- Loss of consciousness
It is natural that when a person is nearing their end then, there will be some changes in their appetite and digestion. They will have trouble swallowing the food and their digestion will be inconsistent. They are going to face extreme weight loss in this situation. . their metabolism will eventually slow down and it is possible that their diet will turn into all liquid.
A person who is at the last stage of dementia and they are completely bedridden then, they will have extreme weakness and fatigue. They might spend their entire day sleeping. Their energy levels will be extremely low and they will not be able to talk to anyone or to listen to anything the other person has to say.
When a person is at the last stage of dementia they will completely cut themselves off from the outside world. They will start living in isolation and they will make a protective bubble around themselves. They will cut off themselves from everyone mainly because they are unable to convey their thoughts properly.
Anxiety and depression:
A person who is going through dementia and they are on their last stage then, they will fall into deep pits of depression and anxiety. It is because of their memory loss and impaired judgment, they feel anxious all the time. They will feel depressed when they are unable to talk to anyone about their emotions and feelings.
Urinary and bladder incontinence:
When a person is in the last stage of dementia and they are showing signs of death then, there is a high possibility that their bladder becomes incontinence. They will have no control over their bladder. At this stage the patient will need a caregiver at all times who can help them when they have to use the toilet. At this stage the patient will become physically impaired.
Changes in vital signs:
There are going to be noticeable changes in the heart rate, blood pressure, and blood circulation of a person who is showing signs of death with dementia. Their arms, feet, and legs will be cold and sometimes swollen. Their blood pressure will drop everyday and they might have dark purple marks on their body.
They will always be confused about the time and place. Most of the time, they won’t even recognize the faces of their family members and friends. At this time when an elderly is showing signs of death with dementia, their attention will be limited and they will have a hard time understanding their surroundings.
At this stage, a person will start to have weak eyesight. They will not be able to hear or see things clearly like they used to. There are going to be some noticeable changes in their sensory organs. They might also have hallucinations and delusions.
Loss of consciousness:
When a person is nearing the end of their life then, being conscious can be difficult for them. They will keep on losing their consciousness, this is mainly because their energy levels are very low and their vital signs are not stable. There is a possibility that their eyes may develop a glassy appearance.
We know that dementia is not one condition, it is a collection of different illnesses that directly affect your brain and its cognitive functioning. It can cause a person to lose their memory, their judgment will be impaired, they will not be able to do any movement, and there are going to be noticeable changes in their personality. Although these signs do not come to surface until a person has reached stage four of dementia and from there a person’s situation will only get worse.
It is not easy to watch your loved ones on their deathbed, but it is necessary for you to know the signs of death in elderly with dementia so you can help them in this difficult time. It is best for the patient to have a caregiver with them at all times. This way they will get the help even when any family member is not with them. Always discuss their health conditions with their doctor and keep yourself up to date with their situation.