Decreased Or Poor Judgement
This is different to: making a bad decision once in a while.
Changes in decision-making or judgement might include dealing with money or paying less attention to keeping clean and groomed. This can be one of the more obvious parts of your observation list for early signs of dementia.
Look out for signs that your parent might not be looking after themselves the way they used to. They may forget to wash regularly, wear the same clothes continuously throughout the week, forget to brush their teeth, forget to brush their hair, shave or to visit the toilet.
Its vital to make sure your parent is keeping up with any regular appointments they may have. Make sure theyre keeping up with their health and hygiene routines with our guide to keeping healthy.
A Note About Unproven Treatments
Some people are tempted by untried or unproven “cures” that claim to make the brain sharper or prevent dementia. Be cautious of pills, supplements, brain training computer games, or other products that promise to improve memory or prevent brain disorders. These might be unsafe, a waste of money, or both. They might even interfere with other medical treatments. Currently there is no drug or treatment that prevents Alzheimer’s or related dementias.
However, there are currently several drugs available by prescription to safely treat the symptoms of early and mid-stage Alzheimer’s. If you have been diagnosed with dementia, your doctor may suggest that you take one of them.
How to protect yourself and others from unproven treatments:
- Beware if the product claim seems too promising and if it conflicts with what youve heard from your health care provider.
- Question any product that claims to be a scientific breakthrough. Companies marketing these products often take advantage of people when they are most vulnerable and looking for a miracle cure.
- Check with your doctor or health care professional before buying any product, including those labeled as dietary supplements, that promises to improve your memory or prevent dementia.
- Report any products or supplements being advertised as a treatment for Alzheimer’s or other diseases on the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations website.
Early Signs Of Dementia And How To Spot Them
Spotting the early signs of Dementia can make all the difference to the progression of the disease. If it is diagnosed during the early stages there is a chance that medication will slow down the diseases that cause the damage to the brain.
Weve put together this guide to the early signs of dementia for you to look out for, and some specific symptoms you can monitor. Please use the links below to navigate the article:
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Discussing Dementia Symptoms With Dr Alex Bailey
In a new episode of the Age Space Podcast, we talk to Dr Alex Bailey, an old age psychiatrist working in Westminster, sharing his thoughts and advice on dementia. This includes identifying the early signs of dementia, details of memory services, supporting those with dementia to live well, psychological therapies, supporting carers and much more. Listen to the dementia explained podcast.
What to read next…
Symptoms Of Mild Cognitive Impairment
Mild cognitive impairment is an intermediate stage between normal age-related cognitive changes and the more serious symptoms that indicate dementia.
MCI can involve problems with memory, language, thinking, and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes, but the line between MCI and normal memory problems is not always a clear one. The difference is often one of degrees. For example, its normal as you age to have some problems remembering the names of people. However, its not normal to forget the names of your close family and friends and then still be unable to recall them after a period of time.
If you have mild cognitive impairment, you and your family or close friends will likely be aware of the decline in your memory or mental function. But, unlike people with full-blown dementia, you are still able to function in your daily life without relying on others.
While many people with MCI eventually develop Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia, that doesnt mean its inevitable. Some people with MCI plateau at a relatively mild stage of decline while others even return to normal. The course is difficult to predict, but in general, the greater the degree of memory impairment, the greater your risk of developing dementia some time in the future.
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Im Always Forgetting Names Do I Have Dementia
Memory lapses are common, especially when you lead a busy life, with work and family commitments, all the while being overloaded by information on mobiles, computers and tablets.
Whether youve avoided introducing a friend to your partner because her name suddenly escapes you, or youve left the shops without the very item you went to buy in the first place, a mental block can be embarrassing and frustrating and can even lead you to ask, Do I have dementia?.
Difficulty Completing Normal Tasks
A subtle shift in the ability to complete normal tasks may indicate that someone has early dementia. This usually starts with difficulty doing more complex tasks like balancing a checkbook or playing games that have a lot of rules.
Along with the struggle to complete familiar tasks, they may struggle to learn how to do new things or follow new routines.
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Are Early Signs Of Dementia Obvious
Changes in a person in the early stages of dementia can be so gradual they can often be mistaken for normal ageing. Because dementia affects people in different ways, symptoms may not always be obvious. In fact, failure to recognise early signs often leads to people not being diagnosed for several years.
So what to look for? Perhaps someone you care for is struggling to remember what they did yesterday and forgets the names of friends or everyday objects. They may have difficulty following conversations or TV programmes, repeat things over and over, or have problems thinking or reasoning. They may feel angry, anxious or depressed about memory loss or feel confused even in a familiar environment.
The healthtalk website presents a range of carers experiences of identifying the early signs of dementia. One carer put it this way.
The first stage is not recognisable I think, or certainly wasnt recognisable as far as I was concerned initially . I was certainly not understanding… the fact that my wife was at the beginning of a serious problem, a serious mental health problem. Because I was with my wife continuously, I think I was less likely to recognise some of the changes that were taking place than people who saw her less regularly.
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.
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How To Address Early Signs Of Dementia
If you notice any of the above signs and think someone you love may have Alzheimers disease or another form of dementia, make a doctors appointment immediately. Early diagnosis is critical for ruling out curable conditions that can mimic symptoms of dementia, devising care and treatment strategies, and making legal and financial plans for the future.
What To Do When Signs Of Dementia Appear
If youve noticed that a loved one seems to be displaying signs of dementia, its important to enlist the help of a doctor. When memory loss becomes frequent or severe, it can place a person at serious risk of injury or death.
A doctor will assess the patients memory history and any present risk factors, such as family history of dementia and medications. Once a diagnosis has been made, the doctor will treat the person for memory loss symptoms and may be able to recommend some care measures that will help alleviate the symptoms of memory loss and make life safer and more enjoyable. Additionally, early diagnosis is important to get ahead of memory loss symptoms and ensure that proper care is received.
Although memory loss is a frightening prospect, there are many ways to determine the difference between normal forgetfulness and dangerous Alzheimers symptoms. If you notice any of the dementia symptoms in yourself or a loved one, seek medical care immediately in order to produce a positive outcome.
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Changes In Behaviour Judgement And Moods
Becoming quiet, withdrawn or restless or frustrated or angry can be early signs of dementia. Someone may develop repetitive behaviour for example, they ask the same question over and over again, do the same thing repeatedly or make multiple phone calls to the same person. They may become insecure and anxious or start hiding and losing items. They may withdraw from social activities or give up hobbies and interests they have enjoyed.
They may show poor judgement, for example putting summer clothes on in cold winter months, not knowing when a kettle is full or overfilling cups when making cold and hot drinks, putting a kettle on the hob or leaving a cooker on or tap running. Someone with dementia may become very emotional and experience rapid mood swings or become quieter and less emotional than usual.
Are You Losing Things And Just Cant Figure Out Where They Went
We all misplace things. And yes, on a busy morning we may even put the cornflakes box in the refrigerator if were moving too fast. Its normal to put things in the wrong spot, and its normal to catch the mistake or retrace our steps to find the keys sitting on top of todays stack of mail.
Whats not: Being unable to figure out where lost belongings might be, putting things in more and more unusual places and starting to suspectwithout evidencethat people have stolen your missing possessions.
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Early Signs Of Dementia Checklist
Signs of early onset dementia usually affect people in their 50s and early 60s. But is it really a dementia sign or is it just a something we do as we get older?
|Signs of Dementia/Alzheimers:
|Making a bad decision once in a while
|Inability to manage a budget
|Missing a monthly payment
|Losing track of the date or the season
|Forgetting what day it is and remembering later
|Difficulty having a conversation
|Sometimes forgetting which word to use
|Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them
|Losing things from time to time
As dementia is a progressive neurological disorder, there are many stages and dementia symptoms. The changes are gradual, and this may give your parent time to receive an early diagnosis and to slow down or prevent the disease from progressing.
Fortunately, the first signs of dementia can be spotted before the symptoms make a big impact on day-to-day living and overall quality of life. For more information on the various stages of dementia, download our free and comprehensive dementia guide.
Sometimes dementia diagnosis can be difficult as there is no one simple test to carry out and early symptoms can be similar to the age-related changes listed above. Here are 10 early signs of Dementia to look out for.
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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Dementia Other Brain Issues
Alzheimers is the most common type of dementia, followed by vascular dementia. They have similar symptoms: confusion, getting lost, forgetting close friends or family, or an inability to do calculations like balance the checkbook. Certain medical conditions thyroid disorders, syphilis can lead to dementia symptoms, and less common types of dementia can have different kinds of symptoms.
Alzheimers has a distinct set of symptoms often associated with certain changes in the brain.
Focusing on safety and appropriate supervision, particularly in the home, is critical for all people with dementia. Your doctor or a social worker can help you find support.
Its also important to be aware of two other things that can lead to decreased mental functioning delirium and depression.
Delirium, a rapid change in cognition or mental functioning, can occur in people with an acute medical illness, such as pneumonia or even covid-19 infection. Delirium can occur in patients in the hospital or at home. Risk for delirium increases with age or previous brain injuries symptoms include decreased attention span and memory issues.
Depression can happen at any time, but its more common with aging. How can you tell if youre depressed? Heres one simple definition: when your mood remains low and youve lost interest or joy in activities you once loved.
Having dementia is challenging. Learn what you can do to support those with dementia in your own community.
Do Memory Slipups Interfere With Daily Life
Forgetting the name of your neighbors dog is normal. Whats not: No longer being able to do everyday activities the way you used to, and you now need help of your family or professionals,
If you used to balance your bank accounts to the penny and now youve lost track of where your household money is going, bills have not been paid and as a result electricity or phone service has been turned off. Similarly, you feel lost and overwhelmed making, or even worse, being unable to make, Thanksgiving pumpkin pie with your favorite longtime recipe, it may be a sign of early brain changes, Yasar says.
And one of the biggest concerns, from a doctors point of view, is the issue with medication management, such as forgetting to take medications or taking them incorrectly. If you or a loved one are having issues managing medication correctly, it’s time to reach out to your doctor.
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Are Your Conversations Getting Stalled
We all have to search for the right word from time to time. And its normal for this to happen more often as we get older, Yasar notes. Whats not: extreme difficulty remembering words, calling things and people by the wrong words or names and withdrawing socially as a result. Having more and more trouble following, joining or continuing a conversation or even following plot on TV may also be a red flag for dementia risk.
Putting Things In The Wrong Place
This is different to: more normal age-related behaviours such as losing things but being able to retrace the steps to find them.
Losing things or putting things in strange places, and then being unable to retrace steps to find them again, is on the official observation list for early signs of dementia.
Sometimes someone else might be accused of stealing which may occur more frequently over time. For example, your dad may insist that a friend keeps stealing his money, whereas its in its regular hiding place.
Other examples that may indicate potential dementia symptoms could include:
- Teabags in the fridge and leaving the milk out
- Toothbrush in the washing basket
- Remote control in the cutlery drawer
- Dirty laundry in the dishwasher
Misplacing or losing items is more common in Alzheimers Disease, rather than vascular dementia. Find out more about the different types of dementia.
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Memory Loss That Disrupts Daily Life
Forgetting recent events is a very common sign in most types of dementia, especially in the early stages.
Other signs someone might have dementia include:
- they forget important dates
- they repeat what they say
- they rely increasingly on reminder notes or electronic devices as memory aids
- they rely often on family members for things they were able handle on their own
Normal Forgetfulness Vs Dementia
For most people, occasional lapses in short-term memory are a normal part of the aging process, not a warning sign of serious mental deterioration or the onset of Alzheimers or another dementia.
The following types of memory lapses are normal among older adults and generally are not considered warning signs of dementia:
- Occasionally forgetting where you left things you use regularly, such as glasses or keys.
- Forgetting names of acquaintances or blocking one memory with a similar one, such as calling a grandson by your sons name.
- Occasionally forgetting an appointment or walking into a room and forgetting why you entered.
- Becoming easily distracted or having trouble remembering what youve just read, or the details of a conversation.
- Not quite being able to retrieve information you have on the tip of your tongue.
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