Signs, Effects & Symptoms of Dementia

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Cross Creek Hospital helps children, adolescents, and adults who are struggling with dementia through an unmatched quality of care and support. Located in Austin, TX, Cross Creek is the leading provider of dementia treatment.

Learn More About Dementia Treatment

Learn more about dementia treatment at Cross Creek Hospital in Austin, TX

The term dementia refers to a collection of symptoms that result from the presence of disturbances within a person’s cognitive functioning capabilities. The symptoms that are associated with dementia include an overall decline in memory and other thinking / cognitive skills that become so prominent that it begins to hinder an individual’s ability to function appropriately on a daily basis and perform activities that are typical of everyday life. People who are suffering from dementia will typically find that they lose the ability to control their emotions, will experience a decline in their ability to reason and use sound judgment, and find it increasingly difficult to appropriately and accurately solve problems.

Dementia is a progressive, degenerative disease, which means that its symptoms will gradually worsen over time. Most forms of dementia cannot be cured, yet the symptoms can sometimes be managed and their degeneration can be slowed through the implementation of certain types of treatment. There are some forms of dementia, however, that can be cured when the symptoms are the result of a reaction to certain infections or medications.


Dementia statistics

As a whole, dementia is said to affect an estimated 24 million people throughout the world. Furthermore, it is believed to be one of the world’s most rapidly growing illnesses. Alzheimer’s disease, in particular, is the most common form of dementia, affecting approximately one out of every nine older adults in America alone.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for dementia

Dementia is believed to develop as the result of nerve cell damage in the brain. However, there are numerous factors that can lead to the damage of such nerve cells. Consider the following causes and risk factors for the onset of dementia:

Genetic: Genetic mutations are believed to place individuals at a higher risk of developing dementia. Because these genetic mutations are said to be hereditary, it can therefore be inferred that there is a genetic link to the onset of this illness. Deterministic genes and risk genes are the two classifications of genes that influence the likelihood that an individual will experience the onset of any type of illness. The Alzheimer’s Association has identified that people who suffer from dementia have both deterministic and risk genes present.

Environmental: There are certain environmental factors that, when an individual is exposed to them, can ultimately play a role in the onset of dementia. Some scientists believe that when people are exposed to chemicals such as aluminum and lead, or particulate air pollution, it can contribute to the development of dementia. Furthermore, when exposed to such toxicities, individuals are believed to experience a decline in cognition at an earlier age.

Risk Factors:

  • Advanced age
  • Family history of dementia
  • Having Down syndrome
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Exposure to certain types of toxic chemicals
  • Suffering from infections that affect the brain, such as syphilis or HIV/AIDS

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of dementia

The signs and symptoms that will displayed by an individual who is suffering from dementia will vary depending upon a number of factors, including the type of dementia one has and the various areas of the brain that are affected by that form of dementia. The following are examples of possible symptoms that may be exhibited by someone who has dementia:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Unprovoked aggressive / violent behavior
  • Making irrational accusations towards others
  • Experiencing difficulty with planning and organizing
  • Social withdrawal / isolation
  • Language difficulties
  • Requiring assistance in order to perform complex tasks
  • Onset of inappropriate, unexplainable behaviors

Physical symptoms:

  • Tremors
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Impaired motor functioning
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of bowel and/or bladder control
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Inability to maintain proper hygiene

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Loss of object recognition
  • Loss of facial recognition
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Disturbed sense of sound judgment
  • Disturbed reasoning skills
  • Lacking abstract thinking capabilities
  • Impaired perception
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Increased agitation
  • Increased irritability
  • Frequently oscillating moods that are atypical for the individual
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal ideation


Effects of dementia

The long-term effects of dementia can be vast. While some forms of dementia can be successfully treated, the majority are degenerative in nature, meaning that, despite attempts at treatment, the symptoms will continuously worsen as the disease progresses. Potential effects that can arise from the presence of dementia may include, but are not limited to:

  • Getting lost in places that were once familiar to an individual
  • Long-term and irreversible memory loss
  • Feeling an unwanted compulsion to engage in activities that are repetitive in nature
  • Increasing levels of unprovoked aggression
  • Inability to perform certain daily tasks without assistance
  • Loss of the ability to recognize faces
  • Becoming paranoid and unwarrantedly suspicious of other people (mostly family members)

Co-Occuring Disorders

Dementia and co-occurring disorders

It is not uncommon for individuals who are suffering from dementia to also experience symptoms that are indicative of the presence of other mental health conditions. In some instances, the symptoms that are characteristic of dementia can lead to the onset of other mental illnesses, while, in other instances, a preexisting mental illness may lead to the development of dementia. Examples of various disorders and conditions that are known to co-occur alongside dementia include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Other anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Psychosis
  • Traumatic brain injury
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Past Clients Say

The staff treatment and medication that I got from Cross Creek helped my dementia a lot. I am so grateful to have gone there and would recommend anyone who is dealing with dementia.

– Former Patient