Who Can Diagnose Dementia
Visiting a primary care doctor is often the first step for people who are experiencing changes in thinking, movement, or behavior. However, neurologists doctors who specialize in disorders of the brain and nervous system are often consulted to diagnose dementia. Geriatric psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, and geriatricians may also be able to diagnose dementia. Your doctor can help you find a specialist.
If a specialist cannot be found in your community, contact the nearest medical school neurology department for a referral. A medical school hospital also may have a dementia clinic that provides expert evaluation. You can also visit the Alzheimers Disease Research Centers directory to see if there is an NIA-funded center near you. These centers can help with obtaining a diagnosis and medical management of conditions.
Watch For These Symptoms
Urban says to be alert for symptoms of dementia, including:
- Forgetting familiar names and faces: People of all ages struggle to remember names. There is no need to worry if an aging loved one cannot recall a persons name after meeting him or her for the first time. However, forgetting the names of close friends or failing to recognize them at all is a sign its time to seek medical help.
- Unable to recall experiences and actions: A common finding in dementia is difficulty in remembering conversations or experiences. For example, a loved one may ask the same question multiple times or repeatedly tell the same story during a conversation. Also, patients with dementia may not recall specific details of an event. Dont be overly alarmed if someone doesnt recall the exact year he or she took a trip to Europe, but be concerned if he or she has no recollection of ever traveling overseas.
- Financial issues: Be on the lookout for overdue bills and irregular spending, as both are common signs of memory impairment in people who are typically careful with their finances. Dementia can cause people to overlook unpaid bills or purchase items they already own or simply do not need.
- Getting lost: Struggling to remember how to get to familiar locations such as home, church or a favorite restaurant is a warning sign of dementia.
What Causes Younger Onset Dementia
Many different types of dementia can affect younger people. Each type has its own symptoms and is caused by a specific type of change in the brain. Some causes of early onset dementia are:
- Alzheimers disease
- problems with blood flow to the brain
- deterioration to the front part of the brain
- chronic overuse of alcohol over many years
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What Are The Early Symptoms Of Dementia
Developing dementia is a scary prospect for everyone, but spotting it early can help you fight it
Dementia is a syndrome and group of related symptoms, associated with an ongoing decline of brain function, according to the NHS.
One in 14 people over the age of 65 develop it and the condition affects one in six people over 80.
The terrifying syndrome is often characterised by a loss of memory, but it can manifest itself in people various different ways.
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Each sufferer of dementia will experience it uniquely, but there are key symptoms to look out for when trying to spot it early.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are often confused, so to put it simply, Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that sees the brain atrophy and brain cells die.
This, along with vascular dementia, make up the majority of dementia cases.
What Can I Do To Reduce My Risk Of Dementia
Those that follow a healthier lifestyle have been shown to have a lower risk of dementia. Doing what you can to protect your heart, as well as staying active, can be beneficial. Therefore, it’s best to aim to:
- eat a varied diet containing lots of fruit and vegetables
- eat less salty and fatty foods, especially those high in saturated fat
- drink alcohol in moderation
- enjoy an active life with plenty of outside interests
- ask your doctor to check your blood pressure and cholesterol
- keep your blood glucose well controlled if you have diabetes.
What Is The Outlook For Frontotemporal Dementia
In the early stages, the symptoms and signs of frontotemporal dementia can be cared for and treated with good results. Late-stage frontotemporal dementia can take years to develop. As the disease progresses, 24-hour care may become necessary.
Frontotemporal dementia shortens a persons life span. The condition will eventually cause a person to have difficulty with bodily functions such as:
How To Spot Early Indicators That Your Loved One May Have Alzheimers Or Dementia
by Patrick J. Kiger, AARP, Updated May 4, 2021| 0
En español | From age 50 on, its not unusual to have occasional trouble finding the right word or remembering where you put things.
But persistent difficulty with memory, cognition and ability to perform everyday tasks might be signs that something more serious is happening to a loved ones brain.
Dementia isnt actually a disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. Its a catch-all term for changes in the brain that cause a loss of functioning that interferes with daily life. Dementia can diminish focus, the ability to pay attention, language skills, problem-solving and visual perception. It also can make it difficult for a person to control his or her emotions and lead to personality changes.
More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s dementia, according to a 2021 report by the Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia, accounting for 60 percent to 70 percent of cases, but a range of brain illnesses can lead to the condition .
Diseases that cause dementia
These conditions are the leading causes of dementia. Many patients have mixed dementia, a combination of two or more types, such as Alzheimers and vascular dementia.
Vascular dementia. The second most common type of dementia is caused from damage to the vessels that supply blood to the brain. It tends to affect focus, organization, problem-solving and speed of thinking more noticeably than memory.
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Stage : Mild Dementia
At this stage, individuals may start to become socially withdrawn and show changes in personality and mood. Denial of symptoms as a defense mechanism is commonly seen in stage 4. Behaviors to look for include:
- Difficulty remembering things about one’s personal history
- Difficulty recognizing faces and people
In stage 4 dementia, individuals have no trouble recognizing familiar faces or traveling to familiar locations. However, patients in this stage will often avoid challenging situations in order to hide symptoms or prevent stress or anxiety.
Hallucinations Or Delusions Of Reality
Unlike Alzheimers disease, individuals in the early stages of Lewy Body Dementia may exhibit cognitive changes such as hallucinations or distortions of reality. In general, hallucinations caused by LBD are vivid and usually visual, rather than auditory. LBD differs from other forms of dementia in that most early-stage cases do not involve memory loss.
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Early Symptoms Of Dementia
Dementia is a collection of symptoms that can occur due to a variety of possible diseases. Dementia symptoms include impairments in thought, communication, and memory.
If you or your loved one is experiencing memory problems, dont immediately conclude that its dementia. A person needs to have at least two types of impairment that significantly interfere with everyday life to receive a dementia diagnosis.
In addition to difficulty remembering, the person may also experience impairments in:
What Conditions Can Be Mistaken For Dementia
The term dementia refers to a specific group of symptoms related to a decline in mental ability. Often, people who experience subtle short-term memory changes, are easily confused, or exhibit different behaviors or personality traits are mistakenly thought to have dementia. These symptoms could be the result of a variety of other conditions or disorders, including other neurocognitive disorders such as Parkinsons disease, brain growths or tumors, mild cognitive impairment , and mood disorders, like depression.
You’re Not Moving As Well As Usual
Difficulties with movement and performing physical activities in the right sequence can be an early sign of damage to the parietal lobe, which is related to motor skillsand this is one of the signs that Eva thinks she overlooked in her husband. Three years before his diagnosis, the couple began to participate in dragon-boat racing. Chow had always been a well-coordinated athlete and handyman, but during training he struggled to learn the basic stroke technique. The coach kept telling him, This is the way you do it. Steve didnt get it very well, and he was upset with the coach, says Eva.
Motor problems are also common with Lewy body dementia, but other neurodegenerative conditions, such as Parkinsons and multiple sclerosis, should be considered, as well.
Information For Your Doctor
Itâs a good idea to put together the following for your first appointment:
- A list of symptoms — include everything youâre feeling, even if you donât think it could be related to dementia
- Any sources of major stress or recent life changes
- A list of all medications you take, including vitamins and supplements, and the dosage
- A list of any questions you have
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What To Watch For
Here are some of the warning signs identified by dementia experts and mental health organizations:
Difficulty with everyday tasks. Everyone makes mistakes, but people with dementia may find it increasingly difficult to do things like keep track of monthly bills or follow a recipe while cooking, the Alzheimers Association says.
They also may find it hard to concentrate on tasks, take much longer to do them or have trouble finishing them.
Repetition. Asking a question, hearing the answer and then repeating the same question 15 minutes later, or telling the same story about a recent event multiple times, are causes for concern, internist and geriatric specialist Jason Karlawish, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, noted in a 2018 article for AARP.
Communication problems. Observe if a loved one has trouble joining in conversations or following along with them, stops abruptly in the middle of a thought or struggles to think of words or the name of objects.
Getting lost. People with dementia may have difficulty with visual and spatial abilities. That can manifest itself in problems like getting lost while driving, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Personality changes. A loved one who begins acting unusually anxious, confused, fearful or suspicious becomes upset easily or loses interest in activities and seems depressed is cause for concern.
People with mild cognitive impairment are at an increased risk of developing dementia.
How To Recognize Early Dementia Symptoms
The Alzheimers Association identifies 10 early signs and symptoms of dementia that can help Alzheimers experts and medical professionals diagnose dementia earlier:
Diagnosing Alzheimers and related forms of dementia early may allow someone experiencing the symptoms access to new drug trials, giving them a broader treatment plan with more options. Additionally, an early diagnosis can help you and your family plan financially and legally for your future.
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What Is The Clock Test For Dementia
The clock test is a non-verbal screening tool that may be used as part of the assessment for dementia, Alzheimers, and other neurological problems. The clock test screens for cognitive impairment. The individual being screened is asked to draw a clock with the hour and minute hands pointing to a specific time. Research has shown that six potential errors in the clock testthe wrong time, no hands, missing numbers, number substitutions, repetition, and refusalcould be indicative of dementia.
Can Dementia Suddenly Get Worse
The progression of dementia depends on the underlying disease. Some diseases have a rapid progression. Others progress more slowly. Any sudden change with either slow or rapid progression should be evaluated for another cause. In most cases, changes with dementia may seem like they came out of the blue when they actually may have been slowly developing in the background. The best way to prepare for changes and manage expectations is through information. Your doctor and medical team will be a valuable resource. There are a variety of educational resources that are also available through the Alzheimer’s Association.
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The Early Signs Of Dementia Are Very Subtle And May Not Be Immediately Obvious
Early symptoms also vary a great deal.
Usually though, people first seem to notice that there is a problem with memory, particularly in remembering recent events.
Memory loss that affects day-to-day function
It’s normal to occasionally forget appointments or a friend’s phone number and remember them later.
A person with dementia may forget things more often and not remember them at all.
Difficulty performing familiar tasks
People can get distracted from time to time and they may forget to serve part of a meal.
A person with dementia may have trouble with all steps involved in preparing a meal.
Confusion about time and place
It’s normal to forget the day of the week – for a moment.
But a person with dementia may have difficulty finding their way to a familiar place, or feel confused about where they are.
Problems with language
Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes, but a person with dementia may forget simple words or substitute inappropriate words, making sentences difficult to understand.
Problems with abstract thinking
Managing finances can be difficult for anyone, but a person with dementia may have trouble knowing what the numbers mean.
Poor or decreased judgment
A person with dementia may have difficulty judging distance or direction when driving a car.
Problems misplacing things
Anyone can temporarily misplace a wallet or keys. A person with dementia may put things in inappropriate places.
Changes in personality or behaviour
A loss of initiative
At What Age Can You Test Someone For The Signs Of Dementia
There is no one particular age that someone must meet before they can be assessed for signs of dementia, although dementia is more common in people over 65. Early-onset dementia can begin in people who are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Diagnosing dementia in its early stages is important as early treatment can slow the progression of symptoms and help to maintain mental functions.
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Conditions With Symptoms Similar To Dementia
Remember that many conditions have symptoms similar to dementia, so it is important not to assume that someone has dementia just because some of the above symptoms are present. Strokes, depression, excessive long-term alcohol consumption, infections, hormonal disorders, nutritional deficiencies and brain tumours can all cause dementia-like symptoms. Many of these conditions can be treated.
Stage : Mild Cognitive Impairment
Clear cognitive problems begin to manifest in stage 3. A few signs of stage 3 dementia include:
- Getting lost easily
- Noticeably poor performance at work
- Forgetting the names of family members and close friends
- Difficulty retaining information read in a book or passage
- Losing or misplacing important objects
- Difficulty concentrating
Patients often start to experience mild to moderate anxiety as these symptoms increasingly interfere with day to day life. Patients who may be in this stage of dementia are encouraged to have a clinical interview with a clinician for proper diagnosis.
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Difficulty Finding The Right Words
Another early symptom of dementia is struggling to communicate thoughts. A person with dementia may have difficulty explaining something or finding the right words to express themselves. Having a conversation with a person who has dementia can be difficult, and it may take longer than usual to conclude.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dementia Symptoms
My dad seems to be tired all the time lately how do I know the difference between age-related changes and dementia symptoms?
Sleep disruption is common with regards to both age-related sleep patterns and signs of early onset dementia so it can be tricky to work out whats going on. But if you look out for accompanying symptoms specific to dementia you may be able to tell the difference. If you suspect it is more than just sleepiness make an appointment with your parents GP.For more information on how dementia symptoms can affect sleep please read our article on dementia and sleep.
What do I do if I think my mum or dad has dementia?
The GP should be the first point of call if you suspect your parent is suffering from signs of early onset dementia. If the doctor suspects your parent has dementia they will refer them to a memory clinic or specialist. For further details on the process please visit our guide on diagnosing dementia.
How does the dementia diagnosis process work?How are dementia symptoms treated?
Unfortunately, dementia cant be cured but it can be slowed down significantly, especially if diagnosed earlier on. For more details on drugs used, visit our guide on dementia treatment.
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Problems With Words In Speaking Or Writing
Someone with a dementia might find it difficult to follow or join a conversation.They might:
- stop speaking in the middle of a conversation
- find it difficult to continue a conversation
- repeat what they say
They may struggle to find the right word or call things by the wrong name, for example describing a watch as a hand-clock.
What Is Dementia Symptoms Types And Diagnosis
Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning thinking, remembering, and reasoning to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Some people with dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may change. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of living.
Dementia is more common as people grow older but it is not a normal part of aging. Many people live into their 90s and beyond without any signs of dementia.
There are several different forms of dementia, including Alzheimers disease. A persons symptoms can vary depending on the type.
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