Dementia Explained

When talking about Dementia its good to know that “Dementia” is not diagnostic. It is an umbrella term for many forms of brain change. The most common Dementia that people think of is Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is characterized by the following:

The loss of new details

For example: Macy’s closed and is now Target. To the person with Alzheimer’s its still Macy’s.

Recent memory loss

“Now Dad what did the doctor say?” The content of the visit is lost or maybe even the whole trip. “Dad who won the world serious in 1972?” Now that question and the stories surrounding it won’t be going anywhere for a while.

Language problems or mis-speaks

Early in Alzheimer’s (and many Dementias) people will miss 1 out of 4 words. How long do you think it takes to get lost? Let's try it out! this is what it looks like if we skip every 4 th word from the above sentences…. Early in Alzheimer’s will miss one of four. How long do think it takes get lost?

Impulsive or Indecisive

People living with Alzheimer’s tend to lose impulse control so what comes into the brain comes out of the mouth. Decision making can become paralytic and cause increased anxiety.

Gets lost in time/place

One example of this is the very common request “take me home”. So, people do. They take the person living with Alzheimer’s home to where they last lived but what they really meant was take me to the place I grew up.

The changes in behavior or personality happens over time. On average Alzheimer’s last about 12 years. Currently there is no cure and the disease is terminal.

For those medical buffs,

Alzheimer’s is thought to be related to beta-amyloid plaques and tau pathologies. Thus far, studies show that we know very little of how the tissue dies but the result is the loss of synaptic connections in the brain resulting in tissue death.

There is much more to Alzheimer’s than what’s listed here but these are hallmarks of the disease. Hopefully as we know more about this complicated subject it will help us to better interact and be there for people living with dementia.


At Hill House Living we specialize in dementia care. We provide special training for all of our caregivers enabling them to understand and provide empathy as they give excellent care to our residents. For more information please contact us at 208-242-2497.