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.
Forgetting Beliefs And Aspects Of Identity
As the persons dementia progresses, they may forget or misremember certain beliefs or aspects of their identity which have been important to them.
This can include religious beliefs and practices, aspects of sexual orientation and gender identity, and dietary choices, such as being vegan or vegetarian.
It can be difficult to know what to do in these situations. Try to use what you know about the person and respect their preferences and beliefs as much as possible.
Always consider what is in the best interests of the person. This will mean trying to find a balance between respecting the beliefs that you know were important to the person before with the beliefs that they currently hold, which may be different.
Loss Of Daily Life Skills
A home that may not be as well kept as usual may be a sign that the person living there has dementia. They may lose the ability to do many of the things they normally do themselves, such as preparing meals, household chores and eating and drinking properly.
They may also struggle to maintain their personal hygiene and getting dressed. Deciding what to wear, how to put things on and in the right order may become increasingly difficult. Getting around the house without walking into furniture and other items may also be a problem.
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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.
Falling More Frequently Than You Used To
Constantly tripping over your own two feet? Everyone falls now and again but frequent falling could be an early signal of Alzheimers disease, according to research. A study published in July 2013 in the journal Neurology found that presumptive preclinical Alzheimers disease is a risk factor for falls in older adults. People will come into our office concerned because they forgot what was on their grocery list last week, but when their spouse says theyve fallen four times in the past year, thats a sign of a problem, says Rankin. Frequent falls may also be a symptom of other brain disorders, including progressive supranuclear palsy.
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Stage : Moderately Severe Dementia
When the patient begins to forget the names of their children, spouse, or primary caregivers, they are most likely entering stage 6 of dementia and will need full time care. In the sixth stage, patients are generally unaware of their surroundings, cannot recall recent events, and have skewed memories of their personal past. Caregivers and loved ones should watch for:
- Delusional behavior
Stage : Age Associated Memory Impairment
This stage features occasional lapses of memory most frequently seen in:
- Forgetting where one has placed an object
- Forgetting names that were once very familiar
Oftentimes, this mild decline in memory is merely normal age-related cognitive decline, but it can also be one of the earliest signs of degenerative dementia. At this stage, signs are still virtually undetectable through clinical testing. Concern for early onset of dementia should arise with respect to other symptoms.
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What Is Alzheimer Disease
Alzheimer disease, which affects some older people, is different from everyday forgetting. It is a condition that permanently affects the brain. Over time, the disease makes it harder to remember even basic stuff, like how to tie a shoe.
Eventually, the person may have trouble remembering the names and faces of family members or even who he or she is. This can be very sad for the person and his or her family.
It’s important to know that Alzheimer disease does not affect kids. It usually affects people over 65 years of age. Researchers have found medicines that seem to slow the disease down. And there’s hope that someday there will be a cure.
Early Symptoms Of Dementia
Although the early signs vary, common early symptoms of dementia include:
- memory problems, particularly remembering recent events
- increasing confusion
- apathy and withdrawal or depression
- loss of ability to do everyday tasks.
Sometimes, people fail to recognise that these symptoms indicate that something is wrong. They may mistakenly assume that such behaviour is a normal part of the ageing process. Symptoms may also develop gradually and go unnoticed for a long time. Also, some people may refuse to act, even when they know something is wrong.
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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
Not Understanding What Objects Are Used For
Now and again, most people find themselves desperately searching for the right word. In fact, failing to find the word you are thinking of is surprisingly common and not necessarily a sign of dementia, says Rankin. But losing knowledge of objects not just what they are called, but also what they are used for is an early dementia symptom. Oddly enough, people who are losing this knowledge can be very competent in other areas of their lives.
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Does Your Memory Loss Affect Your Ability To Function
The primary difference between age-related memory loss and dementia is that the former isnt disabling. The memory lapses have little impact on your daily performance and ability to do what you want to do. Dementia, on the other hand, is marked by a persistent, disabling decline in two or more intellectual abilities such as memory, language, judgment, and abstract thinking.
When memory loss becomes so pervasive and severe that it disrupts your work, hobbies, social activities, and family relationships, you may be experiencing the warning signs of Alzheimers disease, or another disorder that causes dementia, or a condition that mimics dementia.
Why We May Forget A Name
Thats a lot of steps to learn and retrieve namesno wonder theyre hard to remember! Lets take a look at some of the many reasons that we can fail in recalling a name when we need it.
Very often the problem is that we didnt learn the name well in the first place. Perhaps we didnt hear it clearly, whether the problem was due to our own hearing or a crowded, noisy room. Maybe we were not paying attention when the person was introduced perhaps we were thinking of what we were going to say instead of paying attention to the name.
The problem could also be that our short-term memory storage area or the long-term memory area for peoples names arent working well. Lastly, the trouble could be due to something in the retrieval process, whether it is a problem with our vision or the active search mechanism directed by our frontal lobes.
For healthy individuals of any age, perhaps the most common issue is difficulty remembering the name of someone youve just met a few minutes earlier. Assuming the problem isnt simply that the music was too loud and you couldnt hear the name, the usual cause is lack of attention when the name was said. Or perhaps enough alcohol was consumed to impair the function of the hippocampus, and the name didnt make it into short-term storage.
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What Causes Alzheimer Disease
Lots of research is being done to find out more about the causes of Alzheimer disease. There is no one reason why people get it. Older people are more likely to get it, and the risk increases the older the person gets. In other words, an 85-year-old is more likely to get it than a 65-year-old. And women are more likely to get it than men.
Researchers also think genes handed down from family members can make a person more likely to get Alzheimer disease. But that doesn’t mean everyone related to someone who has it will get the disease. Other things may make it more likely that someone will get the disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Down syndrome, or having a head injury.
On the positive side, researchers believe exercise, a healthy diet, and taking steps to keep your mind active may help delay the start of Alzheimer disease.
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.
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Rapid And Unexplained Mood Swings And/or Depression
This is different to: more typical age-related behaviours such as becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.
Mood and personality changes can be associated with early signs of dementia. This could include becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious, and your parent may find themselves getting easily upset in places they feel unsure about. Some of the dementia symptoms NHS lists include:
- Increased anxiety
- Violent mood swings
For example, your parent may appear calm, then visibly upset, and then very angry in a matter of minutes. This is a significant sign of dementia anger and frustration specifically if its unprovoked.
Other physical signs include pacing, obsessing over minor details, agitation, fear, confusion, rage and feeling overwhelmed because theyre trying to make sense of a world thats now confusing to them.
Your Behaviors & Moods Have Changed
While it’s totally normal to experience mood changes throughout the day, a major shift in your personality can be a sign of early-onset dementia. And this is something you may pick up on, or it may be pointed out by a friend.
As Dr. Tawwab says, “A significant shift in personality, like shy to outgoing, can represent a decrease in awareness of inhibitions,” which can be a sign of dementia-related changes in the brain. Usually, this is due to the loss of neurons, and the type of behavioral change involved can depend on the part of the brain affected.
When the frontal lobe is impacted, for example, a person might experience changes in their ability to focus or pay attention, since that’s the area responsible for those actions.
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When To See A Doctor For Memory Loss
Its time to consult a doctor when memory lapses become frequent enough or sufficiently noticeable to concern you or a family member. If you get to that point, make an appointment as soon as possible to talk with your primary physician and have a thorough physical examination. Even if youre not displaying all the necessary symptoms to indicate dementia, now may be a good time to take steps to prevent a small problem becoming a larger one.
Your doctor can assess your personal risk factors, evaluate your symptoms, eliminate reversible causes of memory loss, and help you obtain appropriate care. Early diagnosis can treat reversible causes of memory loss, lessen decline in vascular dementia, or improve the quality of life in Alzheimers or other types of dementia.
You’re Forgetting Recent Events Or Information
Perhaps you can remember exactly where you went on your first big datebut can’t remember what you did last week, or if you did a recent grocery shop. “One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information,” says the Alzheimer’s Association. “Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking for 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.”
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When To Visit The Doctor For Memory Loss
If you, a family member, or friend has problems remembering recent events or thinking clearly, talk with a doctor. He or she may suggest a thorough checkup to see what might be causing the symptoms. You may also wish to talk with your doctor about opportunities to participate in research on cognitive health and aging.
At your doctor visit, he or she can perform tests and assessments, which may include a brain scan, to help determine the source of memory problems. Your doctor may also recommend you see a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the brain and nervous system.
Memory and other thinking problems have many possible causes, including depression, an infection, or medication side effects. Sometimes, the problem can be treated, and cognition improves. Other times, the problem is a brain disorder, such as Alzheimer’s disease, which cannot be reversed.
Finding the cause of the problems is important for determining the best course of action. Once you know the cause, you can make the right treatment plan. People with memory problems should make a follow-up appointment to check their memory every six to 12 months. They can ask a family member, friend, or the doctor’s office to remind them if they’re worried they’ll forget.
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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Inappropriate Behavior And Loss Of Empathy
If someone who is usually sweet, considerate, and polite starts to say insulting or inappropriate things and shows no awareness of their inappropriateness or concern or regret about what theyve said they could be exhibiting an early sign of dementia. In the early stages of some types of dementia, symptoms can include losing the ability to read social cues and, therefore, the ability to understand why its not acceptable to say hurtful things.
Eating Nonfood Objects And Rancid Foods
One surprising early sign of dementia is eating nonfood objects or foods that are rancid or spoiled. This is partly because the person forgets what to do with the things in front of them. For example, dementia patients might try to eat the flower in a vase on a restaurant table because they know they are there to eat, but dont know what the flower is doing there, says Rankin. Unlike some other Alzheimers symptoms or dementia symptoms, this one has few other likely explanations.
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