Mental health awareness has finally come to the forefront of the American conversation. The elderly are often overlooked victims of mental health complications. And with dementia being such a common phrase that is so closely associated with the elderly, many times it is confusing to know if they are the same thing or not. Today we want to clear up the difference between the two and how you can help a loved one who may be suffering from mental illness.

What is dementia? 

Dementia is actually a broad term used to describe chronic brain disorders that effects memory, personality or reasoning. It can be caused by disease or injury to the brain. Some symptoms of dementia include:

  • Balance problems
  • Tremors
  • Speech and language difficulty
  • Trouble eating or swallowing
  • Memory distortions (believing that a memory has already happened when it has not, thinking an old memory is a new one, combining two memories, or confusing the people in a memory)
  • Wandering or restlessness
  • Perception and visual problems

The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. 

What is mental illness? 

Mental illness is a condition of the brain that causes a disorder in a person’s behavior or thinking. Some common mental illnesses among the elderly include the following:

  • Dementia
  • Depression

Dementia is a form of mental illness. 

What can I do if I suspect my elderly loved one has dementia? 

The first thing that you should do if you suspect your loved one is showing signs of dementia is to get them in to see their primary care physician. There are series of evaluations that a doctor can perform to determine if your loved one is at risk. If they are, they can then follow up with a series of physical test that may include blood and urine. There are even a set of memory tests that can be conducted to determine mental capacity and function. If necessary, CAT scans can be performed before a diagnosis is given.

Release the stigma and get help 

Nearly 43 million Americans suffer with dementia or any mental illness. If you or a loved one you know is living with mental illness, there is help available. There is no time like the present to get the help your need. There is a 24/7 helpline for Alzheimer’s: Call 24/7 Helpline: 1.800.272.3900. 

From our heart to your home,
Laura and Courtny