People with dementia suffer from several symptoms that indicate decline of mental faculties over time. Areas of the brain affected by dementia include those used for language, memory, perception, emotional behavior and personality and cognitive skills including abstract thinking, calculations or judgment.
The first symptom is usually forgetfulness. Forgetfulness is normal to a certain extent. The stage between normal forgetfulness due to aging and frank dementia is called Mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
People with MCI are at risk of future dementia but not everyone with MCI develops dementia. They may have mild problems with thinking and memory that do not interfere with everyday activities and the individuals are usually aware of their forgetfulness.
In dementia, individuals commonly forget recent events or conversations.
Other initial symptoms include:
With progressive dementia, symptoms become more obvious and interfere with daily living activities. Patients may complain of changes in sleep patterns with insomnia being common, difficulty in choosing appropriate clothing, cooking meals and driving, forget their own life history and awareness of self and details of current happening.
Some individuals with progressive dementia may develop delusions, hallucination and turn to arguments and violent behavior. They may suffer from depression and agitation as well.
Individuals have difficulty reading or writing and difficulty in judging danger (for example reckless driving or crossing the roads), use mis-pronounced or wrongly used words, develop confusion and withdraw from social contact.
People with severe dementia cannot perform basic activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing, maintain hygiene etc. They cannot recognise friends and family members or understand language. This may be accompanied by incontinence and swallowing difficulties.
The symptoms of vascular dementia can develop suddenly and quickly worsen. They may also develop and progress gradually. Individuals have:
The symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies also develop slowly over many years. Some of the symptoms include:
Since the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are affected, emotional responses and behavior are affected in this type of dementia. These individuals become less sensitive to other people’s emotions. This can make them seem cold and unfeeling. There may be uninhibited and unacceptable behavior in public.
Other symptoms include