Diagnosing Dementia

Worldwide, there are an estimated 24 million people living with some form of dementia.

Worldwide, there are an estimated 24 million people living with some form of dementia.

Head coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team and all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history revealed last week that she has dementia.

Pat Summitt’s diagnosis brings to light questions of what dementia is and how to know when forgetfulness is something to be concerned about.

Dementia is the gradual deterioration of mental functioning, such as concentration, memory and judgment, which affects a person’s ability to perform normal daily activities.

The Garrison Institute on Aging provides the Earlier than the Early Signs of Dementia: Putting the Puzzle Together, a resource for those concerned about the signs and symptoms of dementia. Those signs include:

  • Short-term memory loss. For example, if you have a stack of canned beans in the pantry but keep buying more.
  • Difficulty performing a familiar task. For example, if someone is always neat and meticulous about laundry and ironing and now no longer seems care if things are left undone.
  • Time and place disorientation. Not recognizing familiar surroundings.
  • Reality and fantasy become blurred.
  • Difficulty with abstract thinking. If you never let your finances get out of control and now suddenly find it difficult to balance a checkbook.
  • Sundowning and sleeplessness. Feeling agitated and restless.

If you are concerned about a loved one who is experiencing these symptoms, see a physician.


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