Dementia is relatively common in older adults. In this article, we’ll explain what dementia is and how it relates to nursing home abuse. 

Key Takeaways

  • Dementia is a loss of cognitive function that is more common as people grow older
  • Symptoms of dementia include difficulty speaking, memory loss, poor judgment, and confusion
  • Types of dementia include Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s, frontotemporal dementia, and mixed dementia
  • Dementia can make nursing home patients targets for abuse

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is a loss of cognitive function that interferes with a person’s activities of daily living. It ranges from mild to severe and is more common as people grow older. One-third of people aged 85 or older may have some form of dementia. Dementia has several different types, each with varying symptoms. 

Symptoms of Dementia

Symptoms of dementia can include any of the following:

  • Not caring about other people’s feelings
  • Difficulty speaking, understanding, and expressing thoughts, or reading and writing
  • Memory loss
  • Poor judgment
  • Confusion
  • Losing interest in normal daily activities or events
  • Using unusual words to refer to familiar objects
  • Repeating questions
  • Wandering and getting lost in a familiar neighborhood
  • Hallucinating
  • Delusions or paranoia
  • Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks
  • Trouble handling money responsibly and paying bills
  • Losing balance
  • Problems with movement
  • Acting impulsively

Causes of Dementia

Dementia happens when nerve cells in the brain called neurons stop working, lose connections with other brain cells, and die. The exact underlying causes of this are varied and some are unknown. Rare genetic mutations can cause dementia in a small number of people. 

Types of Dementia

The five most common types of dementia are:

  • Lewy body dementia - A form of dementia caused by abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein, also called Lewy bodies
  • Vascular dementia - A form of dementia caused by conditions that damage blood vessels in the brain, interrupting the flow of blood and oxygen
  • Alzheimer’s disease - Caused by changes in the brain such as abnormal buildup of proteins known as amyloid plaques and tau tangles, Alzheimer’s is the most common dementia diagnosis among older adults
  • Frontotemporal dementia - Associated with abnormal amounts or forms of the proteins tau and TDP-43, this is a rare form of dementia usually found in people younger than 60
  • Mixed dementia - A combination of multiple types of dementia

Dementia and Nursing Home Abuse

Because it is relatively common among older adults, many residents of nursing homes have dementia. Unfortunately, symptoms of dementia such as confusion, memory loss, and difficulty speaking can make dementia patients particularly vulnerable to nursing home abuse. This includes things like malnutrition, dehydration, a lack of informed consent, restraint, and neglect.

Families with loved ones with dementia who live in nursing homes are encouraged to be aware of the frequency and risk of nursing home abuse. You should learn the warning signs of nursing home abuse and make frequent check-ins to see if your loved one is showing any of them. 

If you believe that your loved one with dementia may have been a victim of nursing home abuse, it is important to report it to the relevant authorities immediately. An experienced nursing home abuse lawyer may be able to help you determine whether or not you have grounds for a legal case against the nursing home to recover compensation for your family’s losses, injuries, and suffering.

Featured Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Lawyers

Neustrom & Associates

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45 years in practice
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Law Offices of Francis J. Discipio

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34 years in practice
Medical Malpractice, Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect, Personal Injury
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Palermo Law Group

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Theory Law APC

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Lake Tapps Legal

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D Michael Mullori Jr Attorney At Law

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