PRNewswire - August 12, 2004
CINCINNATI -- It can be difficult to distinguish between dementia, depression and delirium, as they have similar symptoms, advise John Buckles, president of Home Helpers non-medical companion services, and Charles Puchta, principal at Aging America Resources.
Says Buckles, "People often make statements such as `Dad’s going nuts,’ or `Mom’s lost her mind,’ and don’t recognize the treatments that might be available to help a loved one. If you sense a change in a loved one’s behavior, pursue medical attention to find out what treatments might be available."
Dementia is a term that describes disorders that affect the functioning of one’s brain, and is characterized by mental decline and impairment. People with dementia often lose the ability to perform everyday tasks necessary to live independently. It is not uncommon for a person with dementia to say things like "That’s fine with me," or "I’ll have what you’re having" to cover up their struggle.
Depression refers to a mood disorder that can affect both a person’s mind and body. Depression is characterized by intense sadness that lasts for a period of two weeks or long, and impacts a person’s ability to lead a normal life.
Delirium is a cognitive or mental disorder, not a disease, which appears suddenly, often within hours or days, and may come and go throughout the day. A person who is delirious often appears disoriented, exhibits varying levels of consciousness, has disorganized speech and an inability to comprehend what is being said. It also causes those affected to act unpredictably and uncooperative and/or violent.
Puchta says, "If you notice any change in a loved one’s behavior, regardless if it is sudden or gradual, seek medical attention so that you may treat their medical condition and improve their quality of life."