With normal ageing, elderly people do become forgetful because of poor concentration. There are many causes for poor memory but forgetfulness is not equivalent to dementia. Most elderly people will say that their memory is not as good as previously and they may have trouble remembering where they left their house keys, but this does not mean that they have dementia.
Dementia is the loss of intellectual abilities (such as thinking, remembering and reasoning) which interfere with a person’s daily functioning. It is not a disease in itself, but rather a group of symptoms that may accompany certain diseases.
Signs and Symptoms
Someone with dementia may
- not only forget details but the entire event e.g. forgetting he had taken dinner when it was only an hour before
- lose the ability to perform everyday tasks such as dressing, eating or bathing
- become restless and more irritable
- lose the ability to make decisions
- gradually lose their sense of time and place
- face difficulty when doing simple tasks like washing, eating and dressing
- become less communicative, more reclusive
- lose their way around the familiar neighbourhood
There is no definitive cure for dementia as the exact causes are unclear. However, it is possible to minimise some of the common symptoms with medication. Therapies such as reality orientation and reminiscence also help to manage some of these symptoms. The occupational therapists carry out activities of daily living training for the elderly to encourage independence in the community.
IMH runs a Psychogeriatric Clinic located at Specialist Clinic B, Geylang Behavioural Medicine Clinic and the Community Wellness Clinic, which cater to the mental health needs of the elderly in Singapore. Services provided by the multi-disciplinary team include both inpatient and outpatient assessments and management.
To make an appointment to see a doctor, please call 6389 2200.