May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Is your elderly parent or spouse showing signs of mental illness? Dementia can look like mental illness because there are common symptoms and they often coexist. For example, depression and anxiety are common the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, affecting around half of those with a diagnosis. Some mental illnesses are actually a symptom of dementia itself.

When we look at the symptoms of dementia, we see the similarities clearly:

  • memory loss
  • difficulty concentrating
  • finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping
  • struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
  • being confused about time and place
  • mood changes

Other common symptoms of dementia, such as disinterest in once-enjoyed activities, or feelings of paranoia, restlessness and agitation, make it easy to mistake for other mental illnesses. Dementia does affect an individual’s mental health, but in itself, it is not a mental illness.

It is important to get an accurate diagnoses.  If diagnosed early enough, there are treatments that can mitigate the symptoms and ensure the wellbeing and independence of the person suffering.

McKenney Home Care nurses are able to work with you to find resources and determine whether your loved one is suffering from mental illness, dementia or a little of both.


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