Written by Alisa Matsushita-Bomba & reviewed by Nicole Fernandes
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a progressive condition that affects cognitive functioning, memory, and behaviour. It gradually worsens brain functioning, memory, and behaviour, making it difficult for people to complete their everyday tasks. Early detection is critical for effective dementia management.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 5 million adults over the age of 65 had dementia in 2014 and is expected to increase to 14 million by 2060.
Dementia is not a normal part of aging
Despite the large number of older adults developing dementia, it is not a normal part of the aging process. Normal aging can have different symptoms, such as weaker muscles and bones or getting fatigued more easily. Normally, crystalized intelligence (the accumulation of knowledge and stored information) is preserved better, and can even improve as you age rather than fluid intelligence (problem-solving, reasoning), which can decline with age.
The early signs of dementia
Memory loss and decline
Memory loss and cognitive decline are significant symptoms of early-stage dementia. It is important to be informed about the following warning signs:
People suffering from early-stage dementia may find it difficult to remember recent events, appointments, or conversations. They may regularly forget key details or misplace items.
Difficulty with Familiar Tasks
For people with dementia, simple tasks that were formerly normal, such as cooking, handling finances, or following familiar patterns, become increasingly difficult. These tasks could require additional support or take longer for them to be done.
Confusion and Disorientation
Individuals may feel disoriented in familiar settings, become easily lost, or have difficulties understanding time and dates. They may have difficulty remembering where they are or how they got there.
Language and Communication
Dementia can also impair one's ability to communicate and understand others. Here are some early signs of language impairment:
Difficulty Finding the Right Words
People with early-stage dementia can experience numerous pauses while speaking as they struggle to find the correct words. They may substitute words with vague descriptions or have difficulty recalling accurate information.
People suffering from dementia may see a decline in their vocabulary. They may substitute simpler words or phrases over the more complicated language they previously used.
Trouble Following Conversations
Individuals with dementia may have difficulty keeping up with the flow of discussion, comprehending abstract concepts, or following various instructions. They may struggle to grasp the context or fully comprehend what others are saying.
Impaired Problem Solving and Decision Making
Dementia impairs one's ability to reason, solve issues, and make sound decisions. Look for the following indications of cognitive impairment:
Difficulty Planning and Organizing
Dementia patients may have difficulty with tasks that need step-by-step planning. Simple tasks like scheduling, meal preparation, and financial management can become difficult and stressful.
Dementia patients may struggle to keep focus and pay attention to details. They may become easily distracted or struggle to stay focused on tasks or discussions.
Poor Decision Making
Dementia patients often suffer from impaired judgment. They may make decisions that are unexpected, hazardous, or out of character for them. Because of cognitive decline, their decision-making process may become affected.
Mood and Behavioural Changes
Dementia can cause major changes in a person's mood and behaviour. Keep an eye out for the following early warning signs:
Individuals with dementia may experience heightened irritability, becoming quickly annoyed, anxious, or quick-tempered. They may have intense reactions to seemingly insignificant issues or tiny disturbances in their routine.
Apathy and Withdrawal
Common symptoms of dementia include loss of interest in previously loved activities, social withdrawal, or decreased motivation. Individuals may lose interest in hobbies, social connections, and daily living.
Dementia can cause personality changes, resulting in behaviours that are unusual for the individual. Aggression, paranoia, anxiety, or rapid mood swings are examples of these changes. Understanding that these behaviours are frequent signs of the disease could be helpful in their management through compassion and support.
Adaptive Clothing for Dementia Patients
In addition to detecting the symptoms of dementia, it is also important to provide proper care and support. Individuals with dementia may benefit greatly from adaptive clothes in terms of comfort and independence, whether the individual is just showing signs of early dementia or is in the later stages of the disease. Choosing clothing from June Adaptive is a great way to find all of your adaptive clothing needs on one website. When selecting adaptive clothing, keep the following features in mind:
Instead of buttons or zippers, look for clothing with Velcro or magnetic fastenings, which are easier to use for those with dexterity issues. The wrap bra found at June Adaptive is great for single or bilateral lumpectomy or mastectomy, reconstructive, augmentative surgery, recovery or post-op radiation, but can also be used for dementia patients who want a bra without clasps. It features magnetic and velcro side closures to make it extra easy to take on and off. Adjustable bra straps ensure a more custom fit. If you wear an implanted medical device like a pacemaker, consult with your physician about wearing clothing with magnet closures.
Soft, breathable fabrics that decrease skin irritation and encourage comfort throughout the day are ideal. Clothing should be soft on the skin and allow for freedom of movement. This comfortable men’s graphic T-shirt is made with cotton and polyester, allowing it to be breathable and gentle on the skin. The t-shirt also offers extra coverage with a discreet and generous back overlap. Strategically placed snap closures on each shoulder eliminate pressure points. Individuals with dementia can have caregivers effortlessly dress the wearer in many different positions, such as when seated, standing, or even lying down.
To reduce confusion and increase support for independent dressing, choose clothing with simple designs, minimal ornamentation, and fewer layers. Clothing with clear indicators for front and back orientation can also be helpful. These women’s linen pants have a simple design while having functional features that can improve the quality of life for dementia patients wearing them. The pants have a half-zipper, half-velcro combo all along the side seams. The internal pull-up loops minimize the need to bend over when putting these on.
Can You Prevent Dementia?
There is no single method, therapy, or drug that has been proven to prevent dementia. The good news is that, as a result of various studies on risk and prevention, we know there are things you can do to minimize your risk of dementia. Because many of the risk factors for dementia involve your physical and mental health, the best strategy to lower your risk is to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle that cares for both your body and your brain.
Early detection of dementia is critical for immediate treatment and support. You can help detect dementia in its early stages if you are aware of the intellectual, linguistic, behavioural, and mood changes outlined above. Furthermore, providing adults with adaptive clothing from June Adaptive can improve their comfort and independence greatly.
Check out juneadaptive.com for more great quality adaptive clothing options, from shoes to accessories to pants to shirts. Remember that early detection and appropriate care play an important role in improving the quality of life for people living with dementia.