Ten early warning signs of dementia

Ten early warning signs of dementia

Dementia is a general term for the loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other cognitive abilities that is so severe that it interferes with daily activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Dementia mostly affects older adults, but it is not a part of normal ageing. Although there is currently no cure for dementia, early detection can help both the person with dementia and family members to empower themselves with information, set realistic expectations, and plan for the future. It is possible for people with dementia to live meaningful and productive lives for many years after an early diagnosis. Although the symptoms of dementia may vary from person to person due to the underlying cause, there are certain key symptoms that are common early warning signs of this condition. Here are ten symptoms to be on the lookout for.

1. Short-term memory problems

Is your loved one often forgetting where they placed things, wondering why they entered a particular room, struggling to remember important dates or events, asking the same question repeatedly? Trouble with short term memory may be an early sign of dementia. People with dementia often remember events that took place years ago but may forget what they had for breakfast.

2. Difficulty with everyday tasks

People with dementia often find it hard to complete daily tasks. They may experience challenges in planning and problem solving, including difficulty working with numbers. It can be an early warning sign if your loved one struggles to follow a recipe, forgets the rules of a favourite game, has trouble driving to familiar location or managing their finances.

3. Confusion

Confusion with time and place is another common early symptom of dementia. You may notice that your loved one has trouble knowing what day, month or season it is, or figuring out where they are and how they got there. They may also have trouble understanding something that is not happening immediately.

4. Problems with spatial orientation

Some people with dementia experience trouble with spatial relationships and visual images that may lead to difficulties with reading, balance, and judging distance. This can make driving dangerous.

5. Communication problems

Trouble communicating thoughts is also something to look out for. Ask yourself if your loved one is taking longer than before to express thoughts or feelings. Or perhaps they often stop mid-sentence, not knowing how to continue. People with dementia struggle to explain things and to find the right words to express themselves. Loss of vocabulary is a common sign of dementia.

6. Mood changes

Depression, along with increased fearfulness and anxiety, are common in the early stages of dementia. Your loved one may become more easily upset than before. Furthermore, you may notice a personality shift where, for instance, someone who used to be quite shy becomes more uninhibited and outgoing.

7. Poor judgment

Is your loved one who used to be careful with money suddenly giving it away to people or causes that are hardly familiar to them? Or are you perhaps noticing a decreased awareness of dangerous situations? These may be early signs of the loss of ability to make sound decisions that are typical of dementia.

8. Apathy

If your loved seems emotionally flat and listless or has lost interest in hobbies or favourite activities, it could be an early symptom of dementia.

9. Difficulty with change

Difficulty adapting to change is a common early symptom of dementia. You may notice that your loved one craves routine and is afraid to try new experiences.

10. Social withdrawal

A person in the early stages of dementia may begin to withdraw from social engagements and other obligations or may lose interest in spending time with family and friends.

If you notice one or more of these signs in a loved one, it is important to have him or her evaluated by a doctor, as there are many benefits to early detection. Don’t delay in making an appointment.

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