Warning Signs Of Dementia You Should Never Ignore
- Memory loss
Memory loss is one of the most common symptoms of dementia. People that are struggling with dementia struggle to remember things, especially things that they have just learned. Dates, events , or new information are especially hard.
Oftentimes in early stages of dementia individuals can remember things that happened a year ago or even five years ago, but cant remember what they ate for dinner that night.
When it comes to memory loss it does not just affect dates and important events it can even include forgetting where they put items in their home or what they are supposed to do each day.
Individuals with dementia frequently rely on friends, family, and caretakers to help them remember important things that are happening in their lives. They even use sticky notes to help them remember events, dates, or where they put things.
- Difficulty performing tasks they have always done
Someone who is struggling with dementia might find themselves struggling with tasks they have always done such as cooking a meal that they have made for years, playing a game, operating the TV, or even paying their bills. This gets more and more difficult as their dementia gets more severe over the years.
- Language problems
Finding the right word to say can be a struggle for us all, but when an individual struggles with dementia this is a common struggle in their life. They may forget words, say inappropriate words, or create sentences that dont make sense to others.
- Getting lost
Symptoms Specific To Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia, after Alzheimer’s. Some people have both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, often called “mixed dementia”.
Symptoms of vascular dementia are similar to Alzheimer’s disease, although memory loss may not be as obvious in the early stages.
Symptoms can sometimes develop suddenly and quickly get worse, but they can also develop gradually over many months or years.
Specific symptoms can include:
- stroke-like symptoms: including muscle weakness or temporary paralysis on one side of the body
- movement problems difficulty walking or a change in the way a person walks
- thinking problems having difficulty with attention, planning and reasoning
- mood changes depression and a tendency to become more emotional
Read more about vascular dementia.
Early Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s
Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. There are 10 warning signs and symptoms. If you notice any of them, don’t ignore them. Schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Memory loss that disrupts daily life
One of the most common signs of Alzheimers disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking the same questions over and over, and increasingly needing to rely on memory aids or family members for things they used to handle on their own.
What’s a typical age-related change?Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.
Challenges in planning or solving problems
Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
What’s a typical age-related change? Making occasional errors when managing finances or household bills.
Difficulty completing familiar tasks
People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes they may have trouble driving to a familiar location, organizing a grocery list or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
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Where To Get Help
- Your local community health centre
- National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia Tel. 1800 100 500
- Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
- My Aged Care 1800 200 422
- Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
- Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
- Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centres Australian Government Tel. 1800 052 222
- Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers
Withdrawal From Usual Activities
Apathy, lack of interest, and withdrawal from people and activities around you can be indicative of early dementia.
Examples include no longer following a favorite sports team, being apathetic about spending time with treasured grandchildren, giving up knitting or woodworking, and skipping the monthly get-togethers with good friends.
What it’s not: Needing a longer break between activities or occasionally feeling overloaded with obligations.
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Disorientation In Time And Place
We all sometimes forget the day of the week or where we are going momentarily but people with dementia can become lost in familiar places such as the road they live in, forget where they are or how they got there, and not know how to get back home. Someone who has dementia may also confuse night and day.
Is Dementia A Mental Illness
Dementia is a mental health disorder as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association changed the name to Major Neurocognitive Disorder, which is a mouthful. The change was made in order to provide a clearer description of the problem. Whats most important to know is that dementias can involve changes to emotions, behaviors, perceptions, and movements in addition to memory and thinking.
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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.
Challenges Planning Or Completing Familiar Tasks
Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. Experiencing difficulty with cooking a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills are common signs. They may also have trouble driving to a familiar location, organizing a grocery list or remembering the rules of their favorite game.
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Symptoms Specific To Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy bodies has many of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and people with the condition typically also experience:
- periods of being alert or drowsy, or fluctuating levels of confusion
- visual hallucinations
- becoming slower in their physical movements
- repeated falls and fainting
Read more about dementia with Lewy bodies.
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.
Withdrawal From Work Or Social Activities
A person living with Alzheimers disease may experience changes in the ability to hold or follow a conversation. As a result, he or she may withdraw from hobbies, social activities, or other engagements.
Whats a typical age-related change?
Sometimes feeling weary of work, family, and social obligations.
Searching For Answers In The Dark
For Rodriguez, whose mother died from Alzheimers at age 62 in 2019, even venturing to the doctor was a challenge, especially once symptoms such as mood swings and combative tendencies set in.
Rodriguez works as a neurology research genetic counselor at Columbia University Irving Medical Center but also is involved in Alzheimers advocacy, serving as a volunteer and board member for the Youngtimers organization. The goal of that group is to address the needs of patients with early onset familial Alzheimers disease, and their family members.
These are things that people dont really think about, said Rodriguez, who lives in New Jersey, in a video interview with Alzheimers News Today.
It was during Rodriguezs last year of high school when her mother started showing signs of dementia. But it wasnt until she was in graduate school seven years later that a genetic test confirmed a diagnosis of early onset familial Alzheimers.
Rodriguez said she became the chosen one when it came to managing her mothers care, and she felt in the dark most of the 14 years from the first symptoms to her mothers death. If the questions about what was going on with her mother were answered sooner, things might have been different, she says.
Additionally, an earlier diagnosis could have given the family extra time to discuss brain banking. The examination of healthy brain tissue compared with diseased tissue can help scientists develop treatments and understand Alzheimers progression.
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Stage : Moderate Dementia
Patients in stage 5 need some assistance in order to carry out their daily lives. The main sign for stage 5 dementia is the inability to remember major details such as the name of a close family member or a home address. Patients may become disoriented about the time and place, have trouble making decisions, and forget basic information about themselves, such as a telephone number or address.
While moderate dementia can interfere with basic functioning, patients at this stage do not need assistance with basic functions such as using the bathroom or eating. Patients also still have the ability to remember their own names and generally the names of spouses and children.
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 .
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How Long Do Dementia Patients Live After Diagnosis
Dementia symptoms typically progress slowly. People with dementia will progress from mild to severe dementia at varying speeds and may be diagnosed earlier or later in life. Some people with dementia may live for up to 20 years after their diagnosis, though according to the Alzheimer’s Association research shows that the average person lives for four to eight years after a diagnosis of dementia. It’s important to point out that the diagnosis of dementia is often missed, delayed, or diagnosed when the illness is moderate or advanced. The impact of that variable may not be accurately reflected in the research regarding the years of life post-diagnosis.
Changes In Behavior And Mood Swings
Changes are not limited to the physical, emotional changes also can be indicators. You may notice a loved one acting out of character or experiencing severe mood swings. They may exhibit fear, appear anxious, or depressed- these are all signs of Alzheimers disease due to the ongoing changes in the brain
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Eye Conditions And Hearing Loss
A study conducted this year found that people who suffer from certain eye conditions are at a greater risk of dementia.
Experts conducting the UK Biobank study said that people with age-related macular degeneration were 25 percent more likely to suffer with dementia.
It also found that people with cataracts had an 11 percent increased risk of dementia and that people with diabetes-related eye disease had a 61 percent heightened risk of the illness.
Another study, by experts at Oxford University, found that people who go out to loud restaurants and struggle to hear what their friends are saying are also at an increased risk of dementia.
Katie Puckering, information services manager for Alzheimers Research UK said there could be two reasons for the link.
The first is that hearing loss might be linked with cellular changes in the brain. But the second is that social isolation has long been known as a risk of Alzheimers and other forms of dementia, she told The Telegraph.
What Causes Dementia To Progress So Quickly
Dementia symptoms are typically mild at first and progress over time to moderate and then severe, over several years. The speed as which dementia progresses varies between individuals, but some factors can cause dementia to progress more quickly. These include the persons age, the type of dementia, and other long term health problems. Dementia tends to progress more slowly in people over 65 compared to younger people below 65.
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Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks
Some people may experience a greater problem with concentration. Routine day-to-day tasks requiring critical thought may take longer as the disease progresses.
The ability to drive safely may also be called into question. If you or a loved one gets lost while driving a commonly traveled route, this may be a symptom of AD.
What Are The Early Signs Of Dementia
Symptoms of dementia are caused by changes in the brain changes that can begin years before early dementia signs present themselves. There are three general stages for Alzheimer’s mild , moderate , and severe . The speed at which a patient moves through these stages varies, but progression of the symptoms themselves follows a fairly standardized path.
The most common early dementia symptoms are forgetfulness and short-term memory loss. Patients may forget where they left something or have trouble recalling the details of a conversation, but long-term memory and the remembering of important dates or events is typically unaffected in early stages of dementia.
As the symptoms of Alzheimer’s progress, patients become increasingly confused about simple facts such as time or place and may have difficulty concentrating they can still complete regular tasks, but concentrating may take longer than usual.
Over time, symptoms of dementia may include frequently misplacing objects and an increased difficulty completing daily tasks. Patients are more likely to lose things and may have trouble retracing their steps to find them. This sometimes progresses to feelings of paranoia or accusations of theft when the patient cannot find something they unknowingly misplaced. Patients may also start to have trouble with daily tasks such as driving, cooking, or engaging in hobbies. Changes in vision and depth perception may also lead to increased clumsiness, falls, and other accidents.
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Dementia But What Kind
Rather than one specific disease, dementia describes a group of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. There are more than a dozen types of dementia, including rare conditions and others that may develop from other brain disorders, like Parkinsons disease or Huntingtons disease.
Here are the five most diagnosed forms of dementia:
Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for up to 80 per cent of all diagnoses. Generally, Alzheimers affects most areas of the brain as it progresses and can therefore involve changes in memory, language, problem solving, mood and behaviour.
Vascular dementia, the second-most-common type, happens when there is a blockage to the brains blood supply, which causes brain cells to be deprived of oxygen and die. Strokes, transient ischemic attacks and blood-vessel disease are common causes of vascular dementia and can affect different brain areas.
Lewy body dementia is caused by abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein inside the brains nerve cells. This protein, which destroys brain cells, is also found in people with Parkinsons disease. Areas of the brain involved in thinking, movement and visual processing are most affected.
Mixed dementia occurs when a person has at least two different types of dementia, most often Alzheimers disease and vascular dementia. Studies reveal its much more common than previously thought.
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
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