Dementia Signs And Symptoms
A long list of symptoms is associated with dementia, but many overlap with other health conditions, meaning that having some of them does not confirm that an individual is cognitively impaired.
That said, dont hesitate to consult a healthcare provider if you or a loved one is showing signs of dementia, which can be cognitive or psychological in nature:
- Trouble remembering new information
- Exhibiting signs of paranoia
- Exercising poor judgment
Not everyone will notice these symptoms right away, and a checklist alone cant determine if a person has a dementia-related disorder. In fact, not even a test can do so.
Early Signs Of Dementia
The early symptoms of dementia are more varied than being a bit forgetful. To be diagnosed with dementia, someone must show at least two or more of these 10 warning signs:
1. Memory problems that affect daily life. Important dates and events, well-traveled routes, the names and faces of friends and colleagues if your loved one cant remember these facts on a regular basis, it could be an early sign of dementia.
2. Difficulty with planning and problem-solving. Is Dad having trouble following a recipe? Is Mom forgetting to pay the bills? Making occasional errors when balancing the checkbook is normal. But if its a regular occurrence, it might be time to set up automatic payment of their monthly bills and make lists to aid their memory.
3. Problems finding the right word. People with early dementia may substitute the word theyre after with something similar, such as a watch becoming a hand clock. They may stop mid-conversation and have no idea how to continue. Following the thread of a conversation may also be difficult, especially in noisy environments.
4. Confusion about time and place. Losing track of time and place may be a sign of early dementia. Especially if the person forgets where they are or how they got there. Write down appointments, to-do lists and events to help organize their days. Signs on doors can also help identify a room.
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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Dementia Symptoms: Memory Loss Mood And Personality Changes And Other Common Symptoms Of Dementia
Dementia is a progressive syndrome, meaning that it worsens over time. Identifying early symptoms is key to treating and managing dementia over the long-term.
A Quick Definition of Dementia
Dementia is a syndrome that encompasses a group of symptoms that affect memory, reasoning, mood, and other cognitive tasks.
In other words, dementia is not a disease but rather an umbrella syndrome defined by many symptoms related to memory loss, decreased communication skills, inability to perform everyday tasks, and other related issues. More on these symptoms, below.
Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia. Whereas dementia is a syndrome , Alzheimers is a disease, caused by disrupted communication between neurons in the brain, which ultimately leads to loss of function and brain cell death. The symptoms related to this progressive loss of function fall under the same umbrella as the group of symptoms that define dementia meaning that Alzheimers disease is one type of dementia.
While Alzheimers accounts for 50-70% of all dementia cases, the syndrome may also be caused by stroke, vascular disease, depression, infections, and chronic drug use, among others.
Dementia is a leading cause of emotional and financial strain on caregivers and the families of aging adults.
The Symptoms of Dementia
Symptom #1: Memory Loss
Due to memory loss, you may also recognize symptoms of repetition: repeating daily tasks , repeating questions, obsessive collection of items, and more.
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.
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Dementia: Expert Discusses The Signs And Symptoms
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Dementia is the name given to a group of symptoms linked to an ongoing decline in brain function. You could be at risk of the neurodegenerative condition if you suddenly start using bad language, it’s been revealed.
Other Factors That Can Change Behaviour
Poor hearing and vision and arthritic and dental pain can also have a major impact on a persons behaviour and ability to communicate.
Vision in older people can be affected by cataracts, glaucoma, retinal disorder and macular degeneration. If a person has difficulty making sense of their surroundings or is having difficulty reading, watching TV or has become withdrawn, it may be because their vision is impaired. Check if they wear glasses and use them and that their eyes have been tested.
If someone has difficulty in understanding or engaging in conversation or activities it may be because their hearing is impaired. Check if they use a hearing aid, make sure it is working and arrange a hearing test.
Arthritic pain is common in many older people yet it is often overlooked when someone has dementia. Someone suffering from arthritis may well rub a certain area and shield it from being touched. A GP may be able to prescribe medication to ease the pain.
Mouth ulcers, loose fillings, broken teeth, infections and poorly fitted dentures can affect a persons speech and appetite. Good oral hygiene including regularly cleaning teeth and gums and having dentures checked is critical in maintaining good health and wellbeing.
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Difficulty In Calculating Numbers And Handling Money Or Balancing The Cheque Book
This is different to: common age-related issues such as missing a couple of debt repayments due to low income, making occasional errors with number calculations.
Consistent financial problems and money struggles are high on the early signs of dementia checklist. These dementia symptoms include changes in an ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. This could include:
- Spending money more frivolously than usual
- Having difficult following a recipe with measurements
- Being uncharacteristically generous with money
- Struggling to keep track of monthly bills
If youre concerned about your parents ability to handle their finances, read our guide on protecting their legal and financial situation.
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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Failing To Pick Up On Sarcasm And Spot A Liar
You may or may not appreciate a sarcastic sense of humor, but sarcasm is a part of our culture. “We see it as a nice way to be critical and so we use it constantly, even when we are trying to be nice,” says Dr. Rankin, whose research found that people with both frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease tend to have a harder time picking up on sarcasm.
Another unusual sign of dementia Rankin noticed? People with FTD couldn’t tell when someone was lying, although people with Alzheimer’s disease could tell. “FTD patients don’t have that sense anymore that things that people do could turn out badly,” she says.
Caregivers Corner: Swearing Can Increase With Alzheimers Heres How To Cope
I was my mothers caregiver for many years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease so when my husband was diagnosed a few years ago, I felt as if at least I knew what to expect. Mother was very easy going and her memory issues were the biggest concern. My husband, however, has turned out to be a totally different case. While he used some profanity occasionally throughout his life, profanity has now become his primary mode of communication. He yells, swears and can be very hurtful he never treated me this way throughout our marriage. Besides going to another room to cry, is there anything else I can do?
As you have now experienced, each individual diagnosed with Alzheimers disease is still an individual with their own unique personality and each will be affected by the disease in different ways. Behavior changes occur as the disease progresses and destroys parts of the brant and it is not unusual for patients to start swearing and using foul language.
Both the left and right sides of the brain play a role in our language skills. The left side controls our formal language while the right side controls our automatic speech, singing, and swearing. Unfortunately, Alzheimers disease destroys the left side of the brain before the right side so while an individual loses his ability to understand and communicate, he maintains automatic speech such as swearing.
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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.
The Sneaky Early Signs Of Dementia You Should Know About
New research suggests very early stages could be marked by personality and behavior changes.
Very early dementia may cause changes in personality and behaviorin ways that have nothing to do with memory loss, according to researchers who presented at the Alzheimers Association International Conference in Toronto on Sunday.
Older adults who have become uncharacteristically sad, irritable, anxious, rude, or disinterested in friends or familyand who have been that way for at least six monthscould be exhibiting warning signs, they say.
The group of experts is proposing a new diagnosis, called Mild Behavioral Impairment , which could hopefully help doctors recognize brain changes that may lead to neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimers disease. Identifying this progression sooner, they say, might help to pave the way for earlier treatments and better care for at-risk patients.
Along with the new diagnosis, the team also designed an MBI Checklist for doctors, which looks at behaviors involving the patients mood, level of motivation, impulse control, social appropriateness, and sensory experiences. Caregivers may also be able to use a version of the checklist once its finalized.
The checklist asks 34 questions about qualities that many people may recognize in the older adults in their lives. It suggests that doctors consider any behavior that has been present for at least six months and is a change from her/his longstanding pattern of behavior.
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Common Causes Of Dementia
Medical intervention for dementia or dementia-like symptoms depends on the source of the problem. Although its widely believed that such conditions solely affect the elderly, thats inaccurate.
People of any age can experience these symptoms because the causes are related to a variety of health conditionsfrom traumatic brain injury to Alzheimers disease.
Why Delirium Is Such An Important Problem
There are three major reasons why delirium is an important problem for us all to prevent, detect, and manage.
First, delirium is a sign of illness or stress on the body and mind. So if a person becomes delirious, its important to identify the underlying problems such as an infection or untreated pain and correct them, so that the person can heal and improve.
The second reason delirium is important is that a confused person is at higher risk for falls and injuries during the period of delirium.
The third reason is that delirium often causes serious consequences related to health and well-being.
In the short-term, delirium increases the length of hospital stays, and has been linked to a higher chance of dying during hospitalization. In the longer-term, delirium has been linked toworse health outcomes, such as declines in independence, and even acceleration of cognitive decline.
Now lets cover 10 more important facts you should know about delirium, especially if youre concerned about an aging parent or other older relative.
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Understand Why Someone With Dementia Says Mean Things
First, its important to understand why this hurtful behavior is happening.
Dementia is a brain disease that causes parts of the brain to shrink and lose their function, resulting in cognitive impairment.
These different parts control functions like memory, personality, behavior, and speech. Dementia also damages the ability to control impulses, which means actions arent intentional.
Even though its difficult, do your best to remember that they truly dont intend the mean things they say.
These mean comments and hurtful accusations often happen because the person is unable to express whats actually bothering them.
It could be triggered by something in their environment that causes discomfort, pain, fear, anxiety, helplessness, confusion, or frustration.
Working to accept the fact that theyre not doing this on purpose helps reduce stress and makes their behavior easier to manage.
The overall strategy is to take a deep breath, remind yourself that its not personal, take care of immediate discomfort or fear, and try to find the cause behind the behavior.
Next, look for long-term solutions that will help you get the support and rest you need to keep your cool in challenging situations like these.
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…
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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.
Behavioral And Psychologic Symptoms Of Dementia
, MD, PhD, Department of Neurology, University of Mississippi Medical Center
Disruptive actions are common among patients with dementia Dementia Dementia is chronic, global, usually irreversible deterioration of cognition. Diagnosis is clinical laboratory and imaging tests are usually used to identify treatable causes. Treatment is… read more and are the primary reason for up to 50% of nursing home admissions. Disruptive actions include wandering, restlessness, yelling, throwing, hitting, refusing treatment, incessantly questioning, disrupting work of staff members, insomnia, and crying. Behavioral and psychologic symptoms of dementia have not been well characterized, and their treatment is poorly understood.
Many behaviors are better tolerated during the day. Whether sundowning represents decreased tolerance by caregivers or true diurnal variation is unknown. In nursing homes, 12 to 14% of patients with dementia act disruptively more often during the evening than during the day.
Behavioral and psychologic symptoms may result from functional changes related to dementia:
Reduced inhibition of inappropriate behaviors
Misinterpretation of visual and auditory cues
Impaired short-term memory
Reduced ability or inability to express needs
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