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.
Difficulty In Calculating Numbers And Handling Money Or Balancing The Cheque Book
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.
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.
Withdrawing From Work And Social Life
People with early onset Alzheimers, who were once industrious and focused at their challenging jobs, may begin noticing a drop in concentration, motivation or productivity thats out of character for them. They may also find themselves isolating from family, friends, coworkers or hobbies that they used to previously enjoy.
Symptoms In The Later Stages Of Dementia
As dementia progresses, memory loss and difficulties with communication often become severe. In the later stages, the person is likely to neglect their own health, and require constant care and attention.
The most common symptoms of advanced dementia include:
- memory problems people may not recognise close family and friends, or remember where they live or where they are
- communication problems some people may eventually lose the ability to speak altogether. Using non-verbal means of communication, such as facial expressions, touch and gestures, can help
- mobility problems many people become less able to move about unaided. Some may eventually become unable to walk and require a wheelchair or be confined to bed
- behavioural problems a significant number of people will develop what are known as “behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia”. These may include increased agitation, depressive symptoms, anxiety, wandering, aggression, or sometimes hallucinations
- bladder incontinence is common in the later stages of dementia, and some people will also experience bowel incontinence
- appetite and weight loss problems are both common in advanced dementia. Many people have trouble eating or swallowing, and this can lead to choking, chest infections and other problems. Alzheimer’s Society has a useful factsheet on eating and drinking
Difficulty Finding The Right Words
Another early symptom of dementia is difficulty with communicating thoughts. A person with dementia may have a hard time explaining something or finding the right words to express themselves. They may also stop in the middle of a sentence and not know how to continue.
Having a conversation with a person who has dementia can be challenging, and it may take longer than usual for them to express their thoughts or feelings.
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:
Difficulty Remembering Or Trouble Finding Words
Its normal for older adults to have lapses in thought here and there. But showing signs of forgetfulness every day is an early warning sign of dementia.
If your mom is consistently losing track of her thoughts mid-sentence, or if your dad has trouble finding words in casual conversations, these are dementia signs to note.
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Addressing Early Onset Alzheimers Symptoms
Fortunately, there are ways to begin treating some of the symptoms of early onset Alzheimers once its been identified, and there are ways of coping with the disease.
Family members may often have to advocate for their loved one if theyre experiencing these symptoms at a young age. Thats because primary care doctors, Ellison said, often do not have the specialized training to understand early symptoms of dementia and they typically have less and less time to spend with their patients.
Its critically important for families to persist, he said, because other treatable diseases may be causing dementia-like symptoms. Untreated attention disorder deficit, Ellison said, can often look like early dementia. In other cases, gastrointestinal issues cause dementia-like symptoms or multiple medications may be causing a negative reaction.
The first step is to check in with your doctor and ask for a memory or cognition test. Once you or your loved one has been assessed, your primary care doctor should refer you to a dementia specialist to run further tests and ultimately arrive at a diagnosis.
Being able to diagnose the disease early on can help your doctor tailor a treatment plan that may help slow the progression of the disease.
One critical reason to address early signs of dementia is the fact that Ellison and other experts say changes in lifestylediet, exercise and other stepscan help delay onset of full dementia.
Becoming Confused In Familiar Surroundings
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 early onset dementia symptoms.
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.
This is different to: getting confused about the day of the week but working it out later.
Vascular dementia differs from Alzheimers Disease in that it involves stroke-like symptoms including muscle weakness or partial paralysis.
This type of dementia can also be an after-effect of a stroke or mini stroke.
Vascular dementia symptoms can also include confusion, memory loss, low attention span and difficulty in performing everyday tasks.
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What Is The Outlook For Frontotemporal Dementia
In the early stages, the symptoms and signs of frontotemporal dementia can be cared for and treated with good results. Late-stage frontotemporal dementia can take years to develop. As the disease progresses, 24-hour care may become necessary.
Frontotemporal dementia shortens a persons life span. The condition will eventually cause a person to have difficulty with bodily functions such as:
The Truth About Aging And Dementia
As we age, our brains change, but Alzheimers disease and related dementias are not an inevitable part of aging. In fact, up to 40% of dementia cases may be prevented or delayed. It helps to understand whats normal and whats not when it comes to brain health.
Normal brain aging may mean slower processing speeds and more trouble multitasking, but routine memory, skills, and knowledge are stable and may even improve with age. Its normal to occasionally forget recent events such as where you put your keys or the name of the person you just met.
In the United States, 6.2 million people age 65 and older have Alzheimers disease, the most common type of dementia. People with dementia have symptoms of cognitive decline that interfere with daily lifeincluding disruptions in language, memory, attention, recognition, problem solving, and decision-making. Signs to watch for include:
Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias are not an inevitable part of aging. There are 7 ways to help maintain your brain health.
- Not being able to complete tasks without help.
- Trouble naming items or close family members.
- Forgetting the function of items.
- Repeating questions.
- Taking much longer to complete normal tasks.
- Misplacing items often.
- Being unable to retrace steps and getting lost.
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The Early Signs Of Dementia Are Very Subtle And May Not Be Immediately Obvious
Early symptoms also vary a great deal.
Usually though, people first seem to notice that there is a problem with memory, particularly in remembering recent events.
Memory loss that affects day-to-day function
It’s normal to occasionally forget appointments or a friend’s phone number and remember them later.
A person with dementia may forget things more often and not remember them at all.
Difficulty performing familiar tasks
People can get distracted from time to time and they may forget to serve part of a meal.
A person with dementia may have trouble with all steps involved in preparing a meal.
Confusion about time and place
It’s normal to forget the day of the week – for a moment.
But a person with dementia may have difficulty finding their way to a familiar place, or feel confused about where they are.
Problems with language
Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes, but a person with dementia may forget simple words or substitute inappropriate words, making sentences difficult to understand.
Problems with abstract thinking
Managing finances can be difficult for anyone, but a person with dementia may have trouble knowing what the numbers mean.
Poor or decreased judgment
A person with dementia may have difficulty judging distance or direction when driving a car.
Problems misplacing things
Anyone can temporarily misplace a wallet or keys. A person with dementia may put things in inappropriate places.
Changes in personality or behaviour
A loss of initiative
What Happens In The Early Stage Of Dementia
Dementia affects everyone differently and early symptoms are often relatively mild and not always easy to notice.
Many people at the early stage of dementia stay largely independent and only need a bit of assistance with daily living. It is important to focus on what the person can do and not to take over and do things for them. Instead, try doing things with them, for example helping the person develop a routine, reminder lists and prompts, and use technology.
For more information for people living with dementia, see the ‘Keeping active and involved‘ page.
The early stage of dementia is when many people choose to make plans for the future, while they still have the ability to do so. This includes making a Lasting power of attorney , and advance decisions and advance statements to ensure their wishes and preferences are made clear.
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Signs Of Dementia 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
Specialists will want to know about the patients personal and family medical history. A close relative or relatives having had Alzheimers is a major risk factor.
Recent research suggests that a prevalence among even members of your extended family can increase your dementia risk. Doctors also will conduct physical and neurological exams to rule out other treatable causes for dementia symptoms.
Some of the methods that doctors use to diagnose dementia:
Cognitive and neuropsychological tests assess language and math skills, memory, problem-solving and other types of mental functioning.
Lab tests of blood and other fluids, including checking levels of various chemicals, hormones and vitamins, can help rule out nondementia causes for the symptoms.
Brain scans such as CT, MRI or PET imaging can spot changes in brain structure and function. These tests also can identify strokes, tumors and other problems that can cause dementia.
More on Dementia
What Is Lewy Body Dementia
Lewy body dementia is a progressive disease involving atypical deposits of protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain. These changes can affect a persons thinking, behavior, mood, and movement.
The deposits are what Lewy bodies are made of, and are named after Friedrich H. Lewy, the scientist who discovered them.
According to the National Institute on Aging , LBD affects more than 1 million people in the United States, with early symptoms seen typically at age 50 or over. However, it is sometimes still seen in younger adults.
There are two types of LBD: Parkinsons disease dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. Both are due to the decline of two brain messengers, or neurotransmitters: dopamine and acetylcholine. The accumulation of the Lewy bodies causes decline.
LBD is the second most common cause of dementia, after Alzheimers disease.
Lets look into the disease to learn more.
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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 .
Common Early Symptoms Of Dementia
Different types of dementia can affect people differently, and everyone will experience symptoms in their own way.
However, there are some common early symptoms that may appear some time before a diagnosis of dementia. These include:
- memory loss
- difficulty concentrating
- finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping
- struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
- being confused about time and place
- mood changes
These symptoms are often mild and may get worse only very gradually. It’s often termed “mild cognitive impairment” as the symptoms are not severe enough to be diagnosed as dementia.
You might not notice these symptoms if you have them, and family and friends may not notice or take them seriously for some time. In some people, these symptoms will remain the same and not worsen. But some people with MCI will go on to develop dementia.
Dementia is not a natural part of ageing. This is why it’s important to talk to a GP sooner rather than later if you’re worried about memory problems or other symptoms.
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Confusion With Time Or Place
If your loved one has trouble with the time or place of events, it could be an early symptom of dementia. Forgetting the date, month, time of year, or important events may be a red flag.
Take note of when you notice a family member is unable to keep track of time. If dad briefly forgets the day of the week, its probably nothing to worry about. But if he doesnt know the month or forgets family is coming over for dinner, it may be a cause for concern.
Be Aware Of The Symptoms
Most people with COPD develop symptoms that cause them to make appointments to see their doctors. The severity of your symptoms depends on the amount of lung damage you have. However, its possible to have lung damage without having any symptoms. Talk to your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms.
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Alzheimers Research Uk Explain ‘what Is Dementia’
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Early-onset Alzheimers a form of dementia can show up in small ways once a person nears middle age. It might begin as forgetfulness that can easily be overlooked. Dementia charity Alzheimers Research UK elaborated on memory issues. This may include forgetting messages or recent events that would normally be remembered, or repeating questions, the charity noted.
Another indication of the brain condition is more bouts of confusion.
The person affected may become confused in unfamiliar stains and lose a sense of time and place.
Its also possible for the person experiencing early-onset Alzheimers to become:
- Low in mood
- Less confident.
Alzheimers can also cause the person to lose interest in activities they once enjoyed.
These symptoms might be indicative of depression, which is why knowing the other warning signs of the brain condition is useful.
For example, the brain condition can cause a person to find it difficult to find the right words to communicate this is known as aphasia.
The experts at the NHS expanded on what aphasia is and how it can show up in people.
Aphasia is when a person has difficulty with their language or speech, the experts said.
Aphasia may show up as the person using the wrong sounds in a word.
- Memory problems