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How To Spot Early Dementia

How Early Can Dementia Start

Study: Self-administered test helps spot early Alzheimer’s

All types of dementia tend to be more common in individuals older than 65 years of age with the average age of onset being about 80 years of age. People can, however, develop dementia earlier than thatas young as 40 years of age.; Most people who have early-onset dementia have some type of hereditary reason for having the disease so early in life. Certainly, people who have dementia because of head injuries or infection can be younger than is normally seen in dementia.

If dementiaespecially Alzheimers dementiaruns in your family from an early age, you need to consider being tested for early-onset Alzheimers disease.; Knowing if you have the genetic predisposition for this disease can lead to the treatment of symptoms with medication that can slow the progression of Alzheimers disease. In addition, there are many people with reversible dementia seen at an early age so getting a diagnosis, even when you are younger than 65 years of age, doesnt mean you will have an irreversible progression of dementia symptoms.

Problems Speaking Or Writing

In the early stages of dementia, it can be difficult for your loved one to follow conversations. You may observe your loved one stopping in the middle of a conversation with no idea how to continue.

They may also struggle to find the right words. We all forget words from time to time and eventually remember them. People with dementia often cannot retrieve the word even after trying many times. Your loved one may also begin to repeat sentences within a conversation or say the same thing repeatedly in a short period of time.

What You Might Notice: Youve called your dad up to let him know about your plans for Christmas. He sounds agreeable but as you are saying goodbye he says, When are the kids coming for Easter? I need to buy somesomebox wrapping.

How You Can Help: If you know what they are trying to say, dont correct. Just agree and calmly provide the needed word. If they repeat themselves, remember that they are not aware of it. Listen and then continue the conversation in a different direction.

A Personal Alarm Built With Dementia In Mind

If you care for someone with dementia, you may want to consider a system like the CPR Guardian Smartwatch. This light and stylish watch is often preferred by elderly relatives who are used to wearing a watch every day. The CPR Guardian can pair with a carers smartphone, enabling them to find out the wearers GPS location and communicate with the wearer directly through the watch. The watch also comes with an SOS button that alerts the carer directly when pressed. It can even monitor the wearers heart rate! All of these features mean that there is always a way to keep track of your relative with dementia, make sure theyre okay, and be alerted if there is ever a problem.

Sponsored by CPR Guardian

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Familiar Tasks Becoming Challenging

Simple and familiar tasks like making a cup of tea or locking a door can become challenging for those suffering from dementia as brain function and cognitive activity start to deteriorate.

This can occur suddenly or over time and leads to simple tasks or basic routine unexpectedly requiring a lot of thought and energy.

Acting Out Of Character

How to Spot Dementia Early and Learn to Cope

We all change as we move through life, but a clear warning sign of dementia is abrupt changes in your loved ones personality. Dementia can cause changes in the brain that affect the ability to know what is appropriate.Someone who has always been careful with their words may start saying whatever pops into their head. This can include often quite rude or sexually inappropriate comments. When your loved one is behaving out of character, it is often because of changes in the brain.

What You Might Notice: Your mom has drilled into you since birth the importance of tact and politeness. Shes never spoken badly of anyone, but the last time you talked to her she said, Have you noticed how fat your sister has gotten?

How You Can Help: Try not to get upset. This is the changes in your moms brain causing the inappropriate comments. Dont respond and change the subject to a more appropriate one.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Early

For most people with early-onset Alzheimer disease, the symptoms closely mirror those of other forms of Alzheimer disease.

Early symptoms:

  • Withdrawal from work and social situations

  • Changes in mood and personality

Later symptoms:

  • Severe mood swings and behavior changes

  • Deepening confusion about time, place, and life events

  • Suspicions about friends, family, or caregivers

  • Trouble;speaking, swallowing, or walking

  • Severe memory loss

Your Vision Is Patchy

Problems with spatial awareness can be caused by cataracts or glaucoma, but theyre also one of the early signs of dementia. This was the case with Chow, whose first Alzheimers symptoms were caused by a shrinkage of the area of the brain crucial to his ability to accurately perceive the world three-dimensionally.

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A patient with posterior cortical atrophy may see the world in a patchy visual field, explains Hsiung. If the person is focusing in front while driving, he cant see things off to the side. And if hes changing lanes, he cant see other cars beside him. Meanwhile, when Chow made mistakes typing, he was having trouble seeing the whole keyboard.

Tartaglia notes that visual-spatial processing problems are especially prevalent as an early sign of Lewy body dementia, which can affect a similar area of the brain.

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What Are The Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease

Scientists continue to unravel the complex brain changes involved in the onset and progression of Alzheimers disease. It seems likely that damage to the brain starts a decade or more before memory and other cognitive problems appear. During this preclinical stage of Alzheimers disease, people seem to be symptom-free, but toxic changes are taking place in the brain.

Damage occurring in the brain of someone with Alzheimers disease begins to show itself in very early clinical signs and symptoms. For most people with Alzheimersthose who have the late-onset varietysymptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Signs of early-onset Alzheimers begin between a persons 30s and mid-60s.

The first symptoms of Alzheimers vary from person to person. Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimers disease. Decline in non-memory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may also signal the very early stages of Alzheimers disease. And some people may be diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. As the disease progresses, people experience greater memory loss and other cognitive difficulties.

Alzheimers disease progresses in several stages: preclinical, mild , moderate, and severe .

Confusing The Place And Time

Recognizing The Early Stages of Dementia

People who have dementia will gradually lose their sense of time. Dates become meaningless and they can even forget what season or month it is.; Because there is a loss of sense of time, there is more of an emphasis on the here and now and less of an emphasis on future planning.

This can extend to becoming lost and forgetting where they are, especially if they are in a place that is not familiar to them.; If you go to a relatives or friends house and find yourself confused about where you are, how you got there, or how long youve been there, this could be an early warning sign of dementia.;

A person who is just dealing with the signs of aging can also get confused by what day of the week it is and what they have to do on any given day. This is normal and it usually involves being able to recognize that they have forgotten what day it is and figuring out what day it really is. There is not a true loss of the sense of timejust a matter of being occasionally forgetful and distracted enough to forget the time.

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Withdrawal From Work Or Social Activities

At times everyone can become tired of housework, business activities, or social obligations. However a person with dementia may become very passive, sitting in front of the television for hours, sleeping more than usual, or appearing to lose interest in hobbies.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or are concerned about a friend or relative, visit your doctor and discuss your concerns.

How Do You Test For Dementia

Unfortunately, there is no specific test for dementia.

Doctors look at a persons medical history, lab tests, perform a physical exam, and observe the changes in their thinking, day-to-day functions, and behaviors.

Most diagnosis of dementia are done with a high level of certainty, but the type of dementia is extremely hard to diagnose. You may have to see a specialist to determine the specific type of dementia you have.

A neurologist would be the best person to diagnose the type of dementia, but geriatric psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, and geriatricians may also be skilled in diagnosing the condition.

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Becoming Confused In Familiar Surroundings

This is different to: getting confused about the day of the week but working it out later.

Your parent may forget where they are and how they got there.; Along with losing track of dates, seasons and the time this is one of the most tell-tale signs of early onset dementia.

They may also struggle to understand something if its not happening immediately. This is because the mind of someone with dementia is mostly situated in the present and they find it difficult to comprehend the passage of time.

For example, your mum may tell you shes missed you because she thinks she hasnt seen you in a long time, but in reality you visited her last week. ;Another example includes time passing very slowly in a general sense: ten minutes might seem like an hour, an hour might seem like a day and so on.

Early Signs Of Dementia

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Stephen Chow knew something was off when he started making more typos and spelling errors in his work emails. This was in 2010, and Chow, 51 at the time and living in Scarborough, was an IT specialist for Ontarios Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

He tried to ignore the mistakes at first, but the situation became more obvious when attempts to punch in his password kept failing. He found it gradually harder to focus and perform simple, familiar tasks, such as calculating numbers or putting his signature on a document. Everything was all messed up, and I didnt know what to do about it, he says. Not wanting his wife, Eva, and two adult sons to worry, he kept it a secret from them, hoping he could just muddle through.

Instead, over the next several years, more alarming symptoms appeared. As Chow made the daily 90-minute drive to and from work, he had trouble seeing the centre line on the road, as well as the cars beside him. In early 2014, his patchy vision almost killed him when he couldnt clearly discern the roads edge and slid into the ditch during a snowstorm. He was unharmed, but his anxiety mounted, and he decided to talk to his family doctor.

But getting to that stage requires noticing that something is wrongand letting somebody know.

Here are 13 signs that you should be assessed for dementia:

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Difficulty Forming The Words To Speak

When people who used to be fluent and could speak smoothly stop being able to produce language that way, this may be a sign of dementia, says Rankin. Despite this symptom, patients are often crystal clear in other areas. They can run a business, manage their family, or draw beautifully, but they have increased difficulty actually;forming the words to speak.

Dementia Home Care Services

While it can be particularly hard on a family member providing care, especially if a senior is battling with dementia and anger. Professional resources are available to help seniors with dementia live safely and comfortably. Visiting Angels provides specialized in-home dementia care services for seniors with early-stage, mid-stage, or late-stage dementia. Our caregivers help people with dementia maintain quality of life inside their own home. We also provide family members with much-needed respite care.

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Difficulty With Speech And Writing

;People who have dementia have difficulty expressing themselves when writing and speaking. They may have problems carrying on a normal conversation and may forget what they were saying in the middle of a sentence. Because of this, they dont engage in conversation as much as they used to. Word-finding difficulties become more common so they shy away from saying as much as they would like. Naming simple objects becomes harder so they often call things by the wrong name.;

On the other hand, everyoneeven young peoplesometimes have difficulty finding the right word to say.; Usually this is occasional and doesnt interrupt the flow of conversation. Writing is not typically impaired as one gets older, except that your handwriting can get worse. You will usually be able to express yourself in writing, especially when you have the time to think of the right word to say.

Disregarding The Law And Other Social Norms

How to Spot the Early Signs of Alzheimers

Some people with dementia lose their sense of social norms. Shoplifting; breaking into someones house; inappropriate interpersonal behaviors, such as sexual comments or actions; and even criminal behavior, according to a study published in March 2015 in the journal JAMA;Neurology, all make the list of surprising dementia symptoms. This could lead to trouble with the law, too: Early-onset dementia can hit people as early as their thirties and forties, well before anyone around them would consider their out-of-character behavior as a sign of dementia.

Also Check: Difference Between Dementia And Senility

Talking With A Doctor

After considering the persons symptoms and ordering screening tests, the doctor may offer a preliminary diagnosis or refer the person to a Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinic, neurologist, geriatrician or psychiatrist.Some people may be resistant to the idea of visiting a doctor. In some cases, people do not realise, or else they deny, that there is anything wrong with them. This can be due to the brain changes of dementia that interfere with the ability to recognise or appreciate the changes occurring. Others have an insight of the changes, but may be afraid of having their fears confirmed.One of the most effective ways to overcome this problem is to find another reason for a visit to the doctor. Perhaps suggest a check-up for a symptom that the person is willing to acknowledge, such as blood pressure, or suggest a review of a long-term condition or medication.Another way is to suggest that it is time for both of you to have a physical check-up. Any expressed anxiety by the person is an excellent opportunity to suggest a visit to the doctor. Be sure to provide a lot of reassurance. A calm, caring attitude at this time can help overcome the person’s very real worries and fears.Sometimes, your friend or family member may refuse to visit the doctor to ask about their symptoms. You can take a number of actions to get support including:

  • talking with other carers who may have had to deal with similar situations
  • contacting your local Aged Care Assessment Team

Where To Find Help

When your loved one is displaying troubling symptoms, a trip to a;primary care physician is often the first step. But to get a definitive diagnosis, youll need to see a specialist such as a neurologist, geriatrician or geriatric psychiatrist.

If you cant find one, the National Institute on Aging recommends contacting the neurology department of a nearby medical school. Some hospitals also have clinics that focus on dementia.

Ailments can mimic dementia

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What Are The Risk Factors For Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia has one known risk factor: genetics. Scientists have found several genes related to the disease. If one of your family members is diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, you have a greater risk.

However, not everyone with a family history will develop a problem. Its also estimated that more than half of the individuals diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia dont have a family history associated with the disease.

Doctors cant diagnose frontotemporal dementia with a single test. Instead, your doctors will try to rule out other conditions or diseases that cause similar symptoms.

Some of the tests used to diagnose frontotemporal dementia include:

  • blood tests: These can help identify other possible causes.
  • neuropsychological testing: These tests check your judgment and memory skills, and help determine what type of dementia you may have.
  • brain imaging: Doctors will check for tumors or blood clots.
  • MRI: A magnetic resonance imaging test gives doctors a detailed image of your brain.
  • CT scan: A computerized tomography scan creates images of your brain in layers.

Frontotemporal dementia cannot be cured. Treatment is aimed at managing and alleviating symptoms.

Common treatments include:

According To The Alzheimers Association There Are Seven Stages Of Alzheimers:

Here
  • Stage 1No Impairment
  • Stage 2Very Mild Decline, Normal age-related changes or early signs of Alzheimers
  • Stage 3Mild Decline, Friends and Family begin to notice difficulties in memory or concentration. Noticeable problems coming up with the right name or word.
  • Stage 4Moderate Cognitive Decline Able to detect clear cut symptoms. Forgetfulness of recent events.
  • Stage 5Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline Gaps in memory and thinking are noticeable, need help with daily activities. Unable to recall their address or high school they attended.
  • Stage 6Severe Cognitive Decline Personality changes, require extensive help with daily activities. Lose awareness of recent experiences as well as their surroundings.
  • Stage 7Very Severe Cognitive Individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment, carry a conversation or control their movement.
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