Initially there may only be slight changes in personality or behaviour. The person may become less motivated to do the things that previously interested them, or may be reluctant to leave familiar surroundings or routines. They may have difficulty finding the right words, or may repeat themselves.
As the illness advances, the changes become more marked. Concentration, understanding and the ability to reason and respond may deteriorate.
People with dementia may experience confusion, distress, mood changes and aggression as they struggle with the frustrations of everyday life.
Family and friends play an important part in the lives of people with dementia. They provide valuable links to past experiences, and enable a person with dementia to continue to be a loved and valued member of a family and circle of friends. Family and friends can also provide support for those providing assistance to a person with dementia. Many studies confirm high rates of depression, anxiety and even physical illness in families where someone has dementia.
Unfortunately, many people with dementia, their family and carers, find that some people stay away from them after the dementia has been diagnosed. Some are frightened or embarrassed by dementia. Others are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing.
The best way of all to help someone with dementia is to stay interested, stay in touch and let them know that they are loved.
(Ref: Alzheimers Australia, About Dementia Help Sheet 4: Information for Family & Friends)