Recognizing signs of dementia early is key in providing appropriate care before symptoms worsen further.
Finding it difficult to locate words or being disoriented when performing familiar tasks may seem normal; however, these may be telltale signs of dementia.
Memory loss is an early warning sign of dementia. People may forget familiar objects or faces such as names of friends and everyday items; find it difficult to follow conversations or TV programmes; repeat themselves frequently. A person with dementia may also lose their sense of time and date as well as struggle to recognize places they know well, leading them to get disoriented even in their own home or unable to drive there frequently before.
Adjusting to memory changes can be challenging for anyone, and loved ones may notice an absence of interest in activities they once loved. Anyone concerned about their own or someone else’s memory should seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Memory issues could be indicative of depression or medication side effects; if such issues continue for six months or more, however, a doctor should be consulted as they could be early symptoms of dementia.
Caretakers of those living with dementia must also worry about emotional and judicious deficits that impact decision making, leading to poor choices such as crossing a busy street without looking both ways or giving money to strangers they do not know. Some dementia sufferers might become suspicious of people they know and find it difficult adjusting to change.
Apathy, which involves becoming disinterested in hobbies or socialising as often, is another early symptom of dementia. They may struggle with basic tasks like writing out shopping lists or following recipes.
As dementia progresses, symptoms can worsen and affect more parts of the brain. Frontal and temporal lobes – responsible for thinking, planning, solving problems and recalling events – tend to be affected most commonly, which reduces quality of life as people no longer can do things on their own. Assistance may become required with daily tasks as independence fades. Other symptoms may include uncoordinated movements known as parkinsonism as well as difficulty moving, swallowing or speaking.
Changes in Behaviour
Behavior changes may be an early indicator of dementia. People may stop being able to follow instructions, become unfamiliar with familiar faces, or find it hard to comprehend what people are telling them. Individuals living with dementia may struggle with planning and organizational skills, losing track of where items are or whether a task has been completed. They may become confused about the time (e.g. sleeping during the day while awake at night or vice versa). Furthermore, they might find difficulty following television programs or conversations as well as reading/writing difficulties developing, forgetting how to drive around their house, struggle to prepare meals daily for themselves etc – these symptoms often signal dementia early-on. Difficulties with following storylines is another hallmark early sign.
Unexpected personality or behavior changes can be very disturbing for families and carers, particularly if these changes appear abruptly and worsen over time. Unexpected personality or behavioral changes could be early warning signs of dementia as well as depression or psychiatric illnesses; in such instances it’s wise to consult your physician immediately in order to rule out dementia as the source.
Some individuals living with dementia exhibit decreased empathy and become increasingly self-centered as the disease advances, due to fronto-temporal dementia causing loss of brain cells that control judgement, self-awareness and emotions – potentially increasing chances of embarrassing themselves or making offensive comments, while neglecting personal responsibilities at home and at work.
Alzheimer’s patients frequently experience a loss of motivation, for instance when engaging in their favourite activities or socialising less. This can be very distressful; therefore it’s essential that loved ones communicate about what’s going on and help provide some simple distractions such as taking a walk or eating lunch together; for those having trouble communicating, talking to their GP or dementia specialist for advice could also be useful; the national dementia behaviour management advisory service also offers phone advice lines for families, carers and professionals.
Anyone can experience moments of confusion from time to time; however, prolonged confusion could be an indicator that dementia has set in. They might forget where they are or even who they are; follow storylines poorly or find it hard to comprehend what’s being said to them.
Struggles with speech and language can be one of the first telltale signs of dementia, leading to difficulty finding words, understanding what’s being said, or calling things by different names (such as wristwatch for sugar bowl or iron for saucepan). They might become confused as to the day of week, household appliances they should use or how to locate items such as keys, coins or their mobile phone in an effort to reconnect.
Disorientation can create feelings of fear, anxiety and loss of control in its victims. They may become reluctant to leave their home or communicate with people. Items may become hidden or placed in unexpected places. Their mood often shifts quickly from calm to upset or angry for seemingly no obvious reason. Symptoms associated with disorientation could stem from infection, medication reactions or heat stroke and will subside once these issues have been treated effectively.
If someone becomes aggressive, aggressive or violent while disoriented, it is crucial to call 911 and remain with them until help arrives. Doing this ensures they do not harm themselves or others. Since some individuals do not realize or refuse to acknowledge that they suffer from dementia, getting them to visit a physician may be challenging; try finding reasons for them to visit such as checking an illness they think is not serious or reviewing medications as a way of convincing them they need an appointment.
Once dementia is identified as being irreversible, treatment will focus on managing its symptoms. A physician will take a comprehensive history, perform physical exams and administer cognitive assessments (such as short cognitive tests). Other tests may be administered if necessary.
People living with dementia typically don’t feel as well as they once did, often because they struggle to keep up with day-to-day tasks and may not eat enough to stay healthy, leaving them more susceptible to infections and illnesses, including pneumonia. Furthermore, dementia makes taking medication difficult.
Low energy can result in reduced interest in hobbies and socializing with friends, leading them to depend more heavily on others for assistance with daily needs, while their appearance may change, becoming thinner and frailer; all factors which may erode confidence and lower self-esteem. People living with dementia may become incapable of performing daily activities such as bathing, dressing and eating without assistance. People living with dementia can often forget where they put things, like keys and remote controls, lose track of dates or have difficulty judging distances; leading them to trip over items in their home and misplace items they own. People living in poverty may pay less attention to personal hygiene, wearing inappropriate clothing and not brushing their teeth or hair regularly. Their judgement can also be impaired, leading them to purchase unsuitable food or drinks and use dangerous cooking techniques (for instance leaving pans on stove).
As well as difficulty performing familiar activities at home or work, dementia symptoms may include difficulty using mobile phones or bank accounts and struggling with understanding visual images and distance judgment – this may result in people with dementia being more prone to trips over objects at home or walking into furniture and other items in the room.
If you are concerned about changes you or a loved one are experiencing, be sure to speak to their GP immediately. Your GP can help determine whether these symptoms could be part of natural aging or might indicate dementia.
Although most forms of dementia cannot be reversed or cured, certain drugs may help to slow its rate of decline. Regular physical exercise, socialising, reading and word games may help too. A balanced diet consisting of whole grains, vegetables and fruit, fish, nuts and olive oil – in combination with not smoking – may reduce your risk for dementia development.