Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease
With each passing year, we need to be more and more aware of the warning signs of dementia.
Why so? The fact of the matter is, there are more and more people affected by the disease in one form or another.
However, if you act early, you can positively impact the person with dementia and help alleviate the condition.
That said, you can discover some of the most common signs that are connected to a person with dementia. But only if you are familiar with them.
Some are pretty basic, almost mundane, but we just do not link them with dementia. Thus, it almost should be part of the general knowledge, knowing what signs to take into consideration.
Bear in mind, millions and millions of people are impacted by dementia globally and the number is only to increase year in and year out.
Four Early Signs Of Dementia To Look Out For In Your Loved Ones
Nearly everyone will experience some degree of memory loss and forgetfulness as they age. The big question: When do these common symptoms foreshadow dementia?
Karli Urban, MD, a geriatric medicine specialist with MU Health Care and the Department of Family and Community Medicine, says dementias warning signs are often missed.
The early symptoms of dementia can be very subtle, Urban says. Most commonly, its a gradual and progressive memory loss that goes undetected for months or even years. As a result, the official diagnosis will often come late in the onset of the disease.
When dementia is diagnosed early, affected individuals and their loved ones have more time to prepare for the road ahead, take necessary safety precautions and explore treatment options that might slow the progression of the disease.
What Are The Early Signs Of Dementia
Dementia is a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think or make decisions that interferes with doing everyday activities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Alzheimers is the most common type of dementia, but there are others, including vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia. While dementia is associated with aging, it isnt a normal part of the aging process, which is why it is a distinct, diagnosable condition. In older adults with non-dementia, their knowledge, old memories and language usually stay intact, whereas these abilities may be impacted in those with dementia.
Below, we explore the early signs of dementia and how to manage the first stages of dementia.
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Know Your Risk And Reduce It
The three most important risk factors for Alzheimer’s are age, family history, and genetics. Research has also found the following information:
- Most individuals with Alzheimers disease are 65 and older.
- One in nine people in that age group and nearly one-third of people aged 85 and older have Alzheimers.
- People with a parent, brother, or sister with Alzheimers are more likely to develop Alzheimers. The risk increases if multiple family members have the disease.
- Scientists have determined certain genes make some people more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. This is one risk factor and not a cause of Alzheimers.
- Research also indicates that older Latinos and African-Americans are more at risk for Alzheimers and other dementia. The reasons are still unclear.
The risk of developing dementia increases with conditions that damage the heart and blood vessels, like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can also increase risk. Work with your doctor to manage and control these conditions.
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.
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Symptoms Alzheimers Disease In Inglewood
Eventually, a person with Alzheimers may be unable to recognize and deal with numbers. Making judgments and decisions, Alzheimers causes a decline in the ability to make reasonable decisions and judgments in everyday situations. For example, a person may make poor or uncharacteristic choices in social interactions or wear clothes that are inappropriate for the weather.
The loss of neurons spreads in a somewhat predictable pattern to other regions of the brains. By the late stage of the disease, the brain has shrunk significantly. Researchers trying to understand the cause of Alzheimers disease are focused on the role of two proteins: Beta-amyloid is a fragment of a larger protein.
But these mutations account for less than 1% of people with Alzheimers disease estate planning alzheimers early signs. Down syndrome, Many people with Down syndrome develop Alzheimers disease. This is likely related to having three copies of chromosome 21 and subsequently three copies of the gene for the protein that leads to the creation of beta-amyloid.
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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Frequently Asked Questions About Dementia Symptoms
My dad seems to be tired all the time lately how do I know the difference between age-related changes and dementia symptoms?
Sleep disruption is common with regards to both age-related sleep patterns and signs of early onset dementia so it can be tricky to work out whats going on. But if you look out for accompanying symptoms specific to dementia you may be able to tell the difference. If you suspect it is more than just sleepiness make an appointment with your parents GP.For more information on how dementia symptoms can affect sleep please read our article on dementia and sleep.
What do I do if I think my mum or dad has dementia?
The GP should be the first point of call if you suspect your parent is suffering from signs of early onset dementia. If the doctor suspects your parent has dementia they will refer them to a memory clinic or specialist. For further details on the process please visit our guide on diagnosing dementia.
How does the dementia diagnosis process work?How are dementia symptoms treated?
Unfortunately, dementia cant be cured but it can be slowed down significantly, especially if diagnosed earlier on. For more details on drugs used, visit our guide on dementia treatment.
When Can We Spot Dementia
Some people report very early signs of dementia decades before diagnosis . These include loss of smell in people with Lewy body dementia, progressive trouble remembering names of people and items, consistent loss of daily items such as keys, changes in gait , and trouble comprehending learned information from books and reading materials .
It is important to remember that all brains are different and some people are just more forgetful than others. A new and progressive change in memory function or forgetfulness may indicate very early stages of dementia or another brain health issue. A change in cognitive function or ability to complete daily tasks should be checked by a neurologist.
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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.
Other Signs Of Dementia
Below are some other early signs of dementia:
- Poor judgment, more and more often
- Misplacing things, then unable to retrace steps
- Accusations of lying or stealing, because they forget
- Difficulty making change or doing simple math
- Forgetting faces or names of recent acquaintances
- Movement problems, especially after a stroke or with Parkinsons disease
- Inability to follow storylines
- Trouble eating, and appetite loss
- Increased agitation, anxiety, depression, and aggression
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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
Symptoms Of Mild Cognitive Impairment
Some people have a condition called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. It can be an early sign of Alzheimers. But, not everyone with MCI will develop Alzheimers disease. People with MCI can still take care of themselves and do their normal activities. MCI memory problems may include:
- Losing things often
- Forgetting to go to events or appointments
- Having more trouble coming up with words than other people the same age
Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease from MedlinePlus.
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Early Signs & Symptoms Of Dementia
Its important to look for the 10 early signs and symptoms of dementia in family members and other older adults. Spotting early symptoms may lead to an early diagnosis of dementia and increased quality of life thereafter.
According to the National Institute on Aging, the most common form of dementia is Alzheimers disease. Alzheimers affects nearly 6 million people in the United States alone.
But there are other brain disorders that can result in nervous system dysfunction and/or dementia symptoms.
Read on to learn about the early signs of dementia. Some of the early symptoms may surprise you. And knowing the early signs may just save a life.
What Are The Different Types Of Dementia
Various disorders and factors contribute to the development of dementia. Neurodegenerative disorders result in a progressive and irreversible loss of neurons and brain functioning. Currently, there are no cures for these diseases.
The five most common forms of dementia are:
- Alzheimers disease, the most common dementia diagnosis among older adults. It is caused by changes in the brain, including abnormal buildups of proteins, known as amyloid plaques and tau tangles.
- Frontotemporal dementia, a rare form of dementia that tends to occur in people younger than 60. It is associated with abnormal amounts or forms of the proteins tau and TDP-43.
- Lewy body dementia, a form of dementia caused by abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein, called Lewy bodies.
- Vascular dementia, a form of dementia caused by conditions that damage blood vessels in the brain or interrupt the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
- Mixed dementia, a combination of two or more types of dementia.
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Signs Of Mild Alzheimers Disease
In mild Alzheimers disease, a person may seem to be healthy but has more and more trouble making sense of the world around him or her. The realization that something is wrong often comes gradually to the person and his or her family. Problems can include:
- Memory loss
- Poor judgment leading to bad decisions
- Loss of spontaneity and sense of initiative
- Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks
- Repeating questions
- Increased sleeping
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
A common cause of death for people with Alzheimers disease is aspiration pneumonia. This type of pneumonia develops when a person cannot swallow properly and takes food or liquids into the lungs instead of air.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimers, though there are medicines that can treat the symptoms of the disease.
At What Age Can You Test Someone For The 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.
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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.
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What Conditions Can Be Mistaken For Dementia
The term dementia refers to a specific group of symptoms related to a decline in mental ability. Often, people who experience subtle short-term memory changes, are easily confused, or exhibit different behaviors or personality traits are mistakenly thought to have dementia. These symptoms could be the result of a variety of other conditions or disorders, including other neurocognitive disorders such as Parkinsons disease, brain growths or tumors, mild cognitive impairment , and mood disorders, like depression.
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Your Daily Brain Health Checklist
Now that you know some of the early signs of dementia, lets review the basics of good brain health you can practice every day:
- Anti-inflammatory and gut healing diet
- Consistent exercise
- Sleep well
If you are unsure about the state of your cognition or memory and want personalized help, please reach out to our clinic.
What Causes Dementia To Progress So Quickly
Dementia symptoms are typically mild at first and progress over time to moderate and then severe, over several years. The speed as which dementia progresses varies between individuals, but some factors can cause dementia to progress more quickly. These include the persons age, the type of dementia, and other long term health problems. Dementia tends to progress more slowly in people over 65 compared to younger people below 65.
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Alzheimer Society Asks Calgarians To Watch For Signs Of Dementia Burnout Over Holidays
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The Alzheimer Society of Calgary expects it will be busy this holiday season.
What we have noticed over the past few years with the pandemic is calls have not only increased in frequency but also in intensity, explained Rachel Clare, director of learning and support services at the society.
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With in-person holiday gatherings likely to replace months of telephone and video calls, the society expects more people will be seeking out its services in the coming weeks and months.
It could have been up to two years since people have seen each other and so those red flags or those kind of early warning signs that there are some things impacting daily living activities could really be more obvious for family members, said Clare.
The tricky thing with that is that if they havent seen their loved one for two years, they might not want to bring up the conversation, they might want not want to have that awkward conversation.
But talking about what someone may be noticing in an elderly loved one is exactly what people need to do, said Clare, adding dementia support navigators at the society are prepped and ready to help.
They offer practical advice on what to do if youre worried about someone in your life, what to do if youre seeing those red flags for dementia, what to do if youre a caregiver and youre feeling really burnt out and stressed.
How Caregivers Can Support A Loved One In The Early Stages Of Dementia
In the early stages of dementia, your loved one will often be aware that things are not right. They need you to still treat them as the same person that you know. Dont automatically assume that they cant understand, remember, or do for themselves.
Try to understand how your loved one is feeling, especially as you approach the conversation of increasing the amount of care they will need.
Ask questions about what sort of help your loved one may want. Work together to find solutions to the many challenges that the early stages of dementia will bring.
Most of all, cherish and enjoy the time you have with your loved one. Laugh, dance, and take it slow. You dont know what the next days will hold so embrace the good in each day you have together.
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Risk Factors To Consider
Although AD isnt an expected part of advancing age, youre at increased risk as you get older. More than 32 percent of people over age 85 have Alzheimers.
You may also have an increased risk of developing AD if a parent, sibling, or child has the disease. If more than one family member has AD, your risk increases.
The exact cause of early onset AD hasnt been fully determined. Many researchers believe that this disease develops as the result of multiple factors rather than one specific cause.
Researchers have discovered rare genes that may directly cause or contribute to AD. These genes may be carried from one generation to the next within a family. Carrying this gene can result in adults younger than age 65 developing symptoms much earlier than expected.
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