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What Are Early Signs Of Dementia Or Alzheimer’s

At What Age Can You Test Someone For The Signs Of Dementia

1 Early signs of dementia

There is no one particular age that someone must meet before they can be assessed for signs of dementia, although dementia is more common in people over 65. Early-onset dementia can begin in people who are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Diagnosing dementia in its early stages is important as early treatment can slow the progression of symptoms and help to maintain mental functions.

Difficulties In Thinking Things Through And Planning

A person may get confused more easily and find it harder to plan, make complex decisions or solve problems.

An Increase In Compulsive Ritualistic Behaviors

One sign of dementia that most people dont expect is the need to complete extreme rituals or compulsive behaviors. Plenty of people have odd habits and like things done a certain way, says Rankin. But while these habits are within the realm of normal, extreme hoarding or detailed rituals or compulsions, such as buying a crossword puzzle book every time they go to the store even if they have hundreds of them, can be dementia symptoms.

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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.

Discussing Dementia Symptoms With Dr Alex Bailey

Determining Alzheimer

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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When To See A Doctor

Forgetfulness and memory problems dont automatically point to dementia. These are normal parts of aging and can also occur due to other factors, such as fatigue. Still, you shouldnt ignore the symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing a number of dementia symptoms that arent improving, talk with a doctor.

They can refer you to a neurologist who can examine you or your loved ones physical and mental health and determine whether the symptoms result from dementia or another cognitive problem. The doctor may order:

  • a complete series of memory and mental tests
  • a neurological exam
  • brain imaging tests

If youre concerned about your forgetfulness and dont already have a neurologist, you can view doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.

Dementia is more common in people over the age of 65, but it can also affect younger people. Early onset of the disease can begin when people are in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. With treatment and early diagnosis, you can slow the progression of the disease and maintain mental function. The treatments may include medications, cognitive training, and therapy.

Possible causes of dementia include:

Simple Tasks Become Complicated

A person with early-onset dementia might take a long way home because they momentarily forgot the way. They might fail to remember a recipe theyve made by memory a thousand times, or forget how to play a simple card game.

Keeping up with a storyline might be difficult. Little things might have become confusing, and foggy moments could occur.

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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.

Challenges Planning Or Completing Familiar Tasks

New research reveals early signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s

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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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.

Youre Suddenly Bad With Money

A pattern of uncharacteristically poor financial decisions should set off alarm bells. When you have frontal-lobe damage, you lose judgment and can make rash, impulsive financial decisions, says Tartaglia. A frugal person starts giving away more money or buying things they dont needlike a furnace from a door-to-door salesperson. Shes seen patients who did significant damage to their families finances, as well as CEOs of companies who lost millions because nobody noticed the signs.

A combination of declining decision-making skills and memory can also lead to financial lapses. A 2020 JAMA Internal Medicine study found that people with dementia started missing bill payments up to six years before they were diagnosed.

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You Find It Difficult To Keep Focused

In addition to visual-spatial processing issues, Chow also had trouble with concentration due to shrinkage in his frontal lobe. That made writing, reading and driving difficult and affected his ability to do high-level tasks as an IT specialist, says Tartaglia.

Beyond Alzheimers, any other kind of dementia can affect this area of the brainbut note that an inability to focus can also be caused by anxiety, depression and side effects to medication.

What Kind Of Doctor Tests For Dementia

Senior Care Graphics

A primary care doctor can perform a physical exam and find out more about your symptoms to determine what may be the cause. They will likely refer you to one or several specialists that can perform specific tests to diagnose dementia. Specialists may include neurologists, who specialize in the brain and nervous system psychiatrists or psychologists, who specialize in mental health, mental functions, and memory or geriatricians, who specialize in healthcare for older adults.

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Early Signs Of Dementia In Men

Dementia is a collection of symptoms, and there are many overlapping features between the different types. Other diseases and disorders can contribute to dementia, which may affect thought processes, communication ability, focus, and memory capacity of those affected. It is important to not assume your loved one has dementia just because they are facing memory problems. The diagnosis can be complicated and requires the assessment of a doctor or medical professional. The following are some of the more common signs of early dementia in men:

Recent memory loss: Forgetting recent conversations or events is often the first sign. Memories are often not affected and may throw off family members, making them think that memory is okay. Often those affected by dementia will not be able to remember what they eat for breakfast.

Difficulty performing familiar tasks: A very reliable warning sign, according to many medical experts. Dementia patients often lose the ability to cook food they once did flawlessly or get lost on their way home in a neighborhood theyve lived in their whole lives.

Language problems: Struggling to communicate thoughts is often an early sign of dementia. They have difficulty explaining things or have trouble finding the right words to express themselves. They may also substitute the wrong word either knowingly or not.

What Are Early Dementia Signs And Symptoms

Dementia affects each person differently, in varying degrees and at different rates. Individuals usually need to experience two or more symptoms that dramatically interfere with their daily life to receive a dementia diagnosis. However, if you notice one or more signs of dementia in someone you love, schedule an appointment with a doctor who can make a complete assessment.

Six early warning symptoms of dementia may include:

  • Forgetting things recently learned, important dates, names or other important information
  • Asking the same question or repeating the same story over and over
  • Getting lost in familiar places Inability to backtrack or retrace steps
  • Unable to follow directions or stay on task
  • Becoming confused about time, people and places
  • Neglecting personal safety, hygiene and nutrition

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What To Watch For

Here are some of the warning signs identified by dementia experts and mental health organizations:

Difficulty with everyday tasks. Everyone makes mistakes, but people with dementia may find it increasingly difficult to do things like keep track of monthly bills or follow a recipe while cooking, the Alzheimers Association says.

They also may find it hard to concentrate on tasks, take much longer to do them or have trouble finishing them.

Repetition. Asking a question, hearing the answer and then repeating the same question 15 minutes later, or telling the same story about a recent event multiple times, are causes for concern, internist and geriatric specialist Jason Karlawish, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, noted in a 2018 article for AARP.

Communication problems. Observe if a loved one has trouble joining in conversations or following along with them, stops abruptly in the middle of a thought or struggles to think of words or the name of objects.

Getting lost. People with dementia may have difficulty with visual and spatial abilities. That can manifest itself in problems like getting lost while driving, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Personality changes. A loved one who begins acting unusually anxious, confused, fearful or suspicious becomes upset easily or loses interest in activities and seems depressed is cause for concern.

People with mild cognitive impairment are at an increased risk of developing dementia.

Diminished Sense Of Smell

Teepa Snow Discusses the Ten Early Signs of Dementia

You used to be able to smell those fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies immediately, and now you hardly notice them. According to the National Institute on Aging, losing your sense of smell can be a symptom of Alzheimer’s, so it’s crucial to bring it up to your doctor if you notice any changes. Loss of smell and taste is also a symptom of coronavirus. And for more concerning COVID-19 signs, check out 13 Coronavirus Symptoms That Are More Common Than a Sore Throat.

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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.

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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Watch For These 12 Early Signs Of Dementia

As you interact with an aging loved one, watch for these early signs of dementia and Alzheimers. One symptom doesnt necessarily mean that they are developing dementia. However, several may mean that your loved one needs to be seen by a neurologist. The top twelve early signs and symptoms of dementia include

Key Points About Early

Recognise Dementia
  • Alzheimer disease commonly affects older people, but early-onset Alzheimer disease can affect people in their 30s or 40s.

  • It affects memory, thinking, and behavior.

  • Although there is no known cure, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better quality of life.

  • Stay healthy with a good diet and regular exercise.

  • Avoid alcohol and other substances that may affect memory, thinking, and behavior.

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Recognition And Coordination Difficulties

A person showing early signs of dementia may put everyday things in unusual places . They may have difficulty recognising familiar items such as a chair, soap, toothbrush, cutlery, kettle, coffee jar, cooker or fridge.

Signs of a loss of coordination skills can include struggling to undo or do up buttons, to tie or untie shoes and neckties, and to use a hair brush or razor. They may be more subtle, such as putting down a cup of tea too close to the edge of a table or having difficulties lifting a teapot or kettle or using a knife to cut vegetables or fruit.

Problems Speaking Or Writing

In the early stages of dementia, it can be difficult for your loved one to follow conversations. You may observe your loved one stopping in the middle of a conversation with no idea how to continue.

They may also struggle to find the right words. We all forget words from time to time and eventually remember them. People with dementia often cannot retrieve the word even after trying many times. Your loved one may also begin to repeat sentences within a conversation or say the same thing repeatedly in a short period of time.

What You Might Notice: Youve called your dad up to let him know about your plans for Christmas. He sounds agreeable but as you are saying goodbye he says, When are the kids coming for Easter? I need to buy somesomebox wrapping.

How You Can Help: If you know what they are trying to say, dont correct. Just agree and calmly provide the needed word. If they repeat themselves, remember that they are not aware of it. Listen and then continue the conversation in a different direction.

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What Is The Clock Test For Dementia

The clock test is a non-verbal screening tool that may be used as part of the assessment for dementia, Alzheimers, and other neurological problems. The clock test screens for cognitive impairment. The individual being screened is asked to draw a clock with the hour and minute hands pointing to a specific time. Research has shown that six potential errors in the clock testthe wrong time, no hands, missing numbers, number substitutions, repetition, and refusalcould be indicative of dementia.

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