The general signs and symptoms of dementia depend on the type of dementia a patient has. Even those with the same form of dementia can experience different symptoms and degrees of symptoms based on the specific pathology in the brain. Nonetheless, there are a number of cognitive changes and psychological changes that are quite common for those who are suffering from dementia.
When people think of dementia, they tend to think of the cognitive symptom of memory loss. Memory loss is indeed a prominent feature of many forms of dementia, and one that is easy to observe as an outsider. However, there are a number of other cognitive symptoms that people with dementia also demonstrate. Some of these symptoms are related to memory loss, such as difficulty with word retrieval, trouble with planning and organization, and the tendency to get lost of disoriented. Other cognitive symptoms are more related to the ability to think through complex problems and the ability to move normally.
Psychological symptoms are also common in dementia, changing people’s general personality. Those with dementia will often behave inappropriately, have difficulty with reasoning, be paranoid, and experience hallucinations. Those close to patients with dementia are often surprised by these symptoms because dementia is generally viewed as a disease that causes memory loss. However, dementia both directly and indirectly causes psychological symptoms. Some of these symptoms may occur because of the specific pattern of change within the brain, whereas others may be due to the significant psychological impact of losing one’s memory and becoming chronically confused.
Azermai, M. (2015). Dealing with behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia: a general overview. Psychol Res Behav Manag, 8, 181-185. doi: 10.2147/prbm.s44775
Fenelon, G., & Mahieux, F. (2004). [Hallucinations and dementia. Prevalence, clinical presentation and pathophysiology]. Rev Neurol (Paris), 160(4 Pt 2), S31-43.
Metzler-Baddeley, C. (2007). A review of cognitive impairments in dementia with Lewy bodies relative to Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease with dementia. Cortex, 43(5), 583-600.
Robert, P. (2002). Understanding and managing behavioural symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias: focus on rivastigmine. Curr Med Res Opin, 18(3), 156-171.