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Senile dementia includes a range of diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Lewy body dementia, and vascular dementia. Although these diseases have different causes, they share similar symptoms. Common senile dementia symptoms include loss of language, memory, and cognitive ability. Since many people experience the occasional lapse of memory or inability to think of a word, a doctor will usually only diagnose a patient with some form of dementia if the patient displays multiple senile dementia symptoms.
Perhaps the most recognized of all senile dementia symptoms is memory loss. A person in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease may occasionally forget where he or she is or whom he or she is talking to. Memory problems worsen as Alzheimer's progresses. A patient in the later stages of the disease may forget to perform daily tasks, such as taking medication. Alternatively, he or she may remember to take his or her medicine but not recall taking it already that day.
Loss of language ability and the ability to make judgments are other senile dementia symptoms. In an emergency or other situation where quick thinking is required, a person suffering from dementia may seem uncertain about what to do. He or she may also have difficulty remembering words or difficulty expressing him- or herself verbally. As the disease progresses, language problems may extend to not being able to understand directions or recipes or not being able to perform simple arithmetic.
Other senile dementia symptoms include changes in behavior and personality. In the early stages of Alzheimer's, personality changes may be subtle, such as the patient seeming more irritated than usual. Depression is another common personality change expressed by people suffering from some form of senile dementia. More extreme changes in behavior often occur in people with frontotemporal dementia. Such people may suddenly become apathetic, impolite, or behave in otherwise odd and unusual ways; a disregard for cleanliness and appearance is another potential symptom for frontotemporal dementia.
People suffering from Alzheimer's disease or from Lewy body dementia may become delusional. A person may insist that something is occurring when it is in fact not. He or she may become paranoid that his or her partner no longer loves him or her, or that caretakers are poisoning him or her or stealing.
In addition to delusions, a person suffering from Lewy body dementia may experience hallucinations. The hallucinations can be quite clear, much like waking dreams. Since Lewy body dementia affects the part of the brain that controls movement and thought, a person suffering from the disease may also show physical symptoms, such as difficulty walking and tremors.
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