Senile Dementia

Senility and the Impact on the Elderly and Caregivers

The term senile dementia, or senility, is a term rarely used within the medical community today. It most often refers simply to dementia associated with old age and can be sometimes interchanged with organic brain syndrome.

Short term memory loss is often the presenting symptom of this disease. Progression of the disease will usually lead to impaired judgment, inappropriate or dangerous behaviors, and loss of executive functioning and reasoning.

There are some typical physical changes that occur alongside the mental and intellectual symptoms typically associated with this disease process. Some of these include:

  • Stooped posture
  • Wrinkled skin
  • Osteoporosis with frequent falls and fractures
  • Changes in hearing and/or vision
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss, possibly attributed to difficulty swallowing
  • General frailty

Causes of Senile Dementia

The physical and mental changes that occur with this disease are believed to be related to aging of the cortical brain cells. One of the most common diseases that can lead to senile dementia is Alzheimer's.

Other potential causes include vascular changes that cause damage to the brain cells, including strokes and mini strokes.

Caregiver Tips

This diagnosis can be devastating. You know the course can be long and painful, but there are some things that you can do that will make both your life, and the life of your loved one, as pleasant as possible.

  1. Be kind, understanding and gentle: As the disease progresses, it can be very frightening. If you stay calm and gentle, you will make the changes easier for your loved one.

  2. Maintain your sense of humor: Laughter is great medicine. Find things that are joyful in life and talk about them, laughing with your loved one when able

  3. Watch for aggressive behaviors: These behaviors can be common in later stages. Let your doctor know if they develop. There are some medications that may be of help. Always keep your safety and the safety of your loved on as a top priority

  4. Do activities that utilize long term memory: Long term memory lasts much longer. Reread old letters, look through old photographs and ask questions.

  5. Make sure vision and hearing problems are adequately addressed: These problems can make the symptoms worse.

  6. Take your loved one to the doctor: Often people with senile dementia are suffering from Alzheimer's disease. There may also be a medication reaction or a systemic reaction to an infection, like a urinary tract infection.

Loving someone with senile dementia can be rewarding, despite the devastating effects of the disease process. Make sure you are following up with their physician as things progress and change. There are treatments available to help some of the symptoms and make things a little easier for you both.

Make sure you keep their lifestyle as healthy as possible, including a balanced diet of appropriate texture, thickened liquids if necessary, adequate exercise and even consider implementing some vitamins for memory , which may help delay some of the effects of the dementia.

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