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What Are The Early Symptoms Of Dementia

Increasing Difficulty Finding Words

Teepa Snow Discusses the Ten Early Signs of Dementia

When we have so much going through our minds on a daily basis, it can be hard to find the words were looking for when were in the middle of conversations. Thats to be expected. But when you notice an aging loved one start to struggle to find words during their conversations on a regular basis or in almost every conversation, this could be an early sign of dementia. Your loved one might be good at finding synonyms for their lost word, but the struggle to come up with that synonym could definitely signal a real issue with their memory.

These top 8 early signs of dementia can help you identify an issue for your loved one before the issue of dementia becomes too big to handle. While dementia is not a curable disease, it can be treated and kept at bay in a relatively easy manner when caught early enough. As your loved ones start to age, be aware of their actions and words as often as possible! The earlier you can spot the early signs of dementia, the better off your family will be.

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Statistics Of Dementia In Men

Approximately 14 percent of Americans 71 years and older have some form of dementia, with the prevalence being slightly higher in women. Sixteen percent of women 71 years and older suffer from dementia, compared to only 11 percent of men. These results were found during the Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study .

Researchers and scientist are still unclear why this gender difference exists, but theorize that the longer life expectancies of women may play a factor. Other possible reasons may be hormonal differences between men and women, genetic differences , and even historical differences in education, as in the past, educated women were a rarity and it is known that low education is a risk factor for the development of Alzheimers.

Dementia But What Kind

Rather than one specific disease, dementia describes a group of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. There are more than a dozen types of dementia, including rare conditions and others that may develop from other brain disorders, like Parkinsons disease or Huntingtons disease.

Here are the five most diagnosed forms of dementia:

Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for up to 80 per cent of all diagnoses. Generally, Alzheimers affects most areas of the brain as it progresses and can therefore involve changes in memory, language, problem solving, mood and behaviour.

Vascular dementia, the second-most-common type, happens when there is a blockage to the brains blood supply, which causes brain cells to be deprived of oxygen and die. Strokes, transient ischemic attacks and blood-vessel disease are common causes of vascular dementia and can affect different brain areas.

Lewy body dementia is caused by abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein inside the brains nerve cells. This protein, which destroys brain cells, is also found in people with Parkinsons disease. Areas of the brain involved in thinking, movement and visual processing are most affected.

Mixed dementia occurs when a person has at least two different types of dementia, most often Alzheimers disease and vascular dementia. Studies reveal its much more common than previously thought.

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Differences In Signs Of Dementia In Men And Women

While it is true that the majority of dementia symptoms and signs are seen in both sexes, according to research, some differences can be appreciated between the two. They involve the rate and degree to which certain symptoms develop. The following are such symptoms:

Verbal skills: Men were seen to retain verbal fluency longer than women. This is the ability to correctly perform naming tasks, and the ability to successfully perform delayed recall of words.

Subjective memory complaints: Women were seen to experience memory impairment earlier in the course of dementia than men.

Depressive symptoms: Men with depressive symptoms were found to have a significantly higher risk of developing dementia, particularly Alzheimers disease, compared to women with depressive symptoms.

Rate of symptom progression: A study found that once the initial symptoms of dementia appear in men and women, they tend to progress at a faster rate in women than men. The reasoning for this correlation is not well understood but is suspected to be genetic or environmental in origin.

Rapid And Unexplained Mood Swings And/or Depression

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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
  • Depression
  • 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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Decreased Or Poor Judgement

This is different to: making a bad decision once in a while.

Changes in decision-making or judgement might include dealing with money or paying less attention to keeping clean and groomed. This can be one of the more obvious parts of your observation list for early signs of dementia.

Look out for signs that your parent might not be looking after themselves the way they used to. They may forget to wash regularly, wear the same clothes continuously throughout the week, forget to brush their teeth, forget to brush their hair, shave or go to the loo.

How To Spot Early Indicators That Your Loved One May Have Alzheimers Or Dementia

by Patrick J. Kiger, AARP, Updated September 27, 2021

En espaƱol | 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 the “2021 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures” report fromthe 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.

Lewy body dementia. Abnormal protein deposits in the brain, called Lewy bodies, affect brain chemistry and lead to problems with behavior, mood, movement and thinking.

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Dementia Symptoms To Track In Elderly Parents

No one knows your parents personalities, hobbies, or quirks like you do. So if you notice unusual behavioror experience a persistent feeling that something is offtheres a good chance it is. Aging is a well-known risk factor for Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia. In fact, the risk of developing Alzheimers disease doubles every five years in people 65 and older.

Learning to spot key dementia symptoms in aging parents and documenting the early stages of dementia can make a big difference. Your observations could provide helpful insight to doctors, which can lead to a quicker and more accurate diagnosis. Discover eight dementia behaviors to track and how to get a diagnosis and treatment.

Completing Daily Tasks Becomes More Difficult

1 Early signs of dementia

You could very well take for granted the ability to brush your teeth on your own or walk to the mailbox by yourself. These are very common daily tasks that you have done for years and years. None of it should be difficult, right? But an early sign of dementia is the increasing difficulty in completing daily tasks.

Your aging loved one might find brushing their teeth something that takes quite the effort, walking to the mailbox takes longer than it used to, and washing dishes in the sink gets messier than you ever experienced before. This is an early sign of dementia. Be sure to listen for any complaints from your aging loved ones to be ready to help get them help if they need it as soon as possible!

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Early Symptoms Of Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia symptoms tend to come on very slowly. There are three different types and early signs depend on the type it is.

  • People may become less inhibited and start behaving oddly and inappropriately. For example, they may share out-of-character and socially inappropriate humour, show aggression or develop overly sexual behaviour. Their self-care may also be affected.
  • Some people may speak more hesitantly and have difficulty understanding long sentences.
  • Some people begin to forget words, what things are called or what theyre used for.

Stage : Mild Cognitive Impairment

Clear cognitive problems begin to manifest in stage 3. A few signs of stage 3 dementia include:

  • Getting lost easily
  • Noticeably poor performance at work
  • Forgetting the names of family members and close friends
  • Difficulty retaining information read in a book or passage
  • Losing or misplacing important objects
  • Difficulty concentrating

Patients often start to experience mild to moderate anxiety as these symptoms increasingly interfere with day to day life. Patients who may be in this stage of dementia are encouraged to have a clinical interview with a clinician for proper diagnosis.

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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.

Your Vision Is Patchy

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Problems with spatial awareness can be caused by cataracts or glaucoma, but theyre also one of the early signs of dementia. This was the case with Chow, whose first Alzheimers symptoms were caused by a shrinkage of the area of the brain crucial to his ability to accurately perceive the world three-dimensionally.

A patient with posterior cortical atrophy may see the world in a patchy visual field, explains Hsiung. If the person is focusing in front while driving, he cant see things off to the side. And if hes changing lanes, he cant see other cars beside him. Meanwhile, when Chow made mistakes typing, he was having trouble seeing the whole keyboard.

Tartaglia notes that visual-spatial processing problems are especially prevalent as an early sign of Lewy body dementia, which can affect a similar area of the brain.

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Dementia is the term given to a group of diseases that affect a persons thinking, behaviour and ability to perform everyday tasks. While its commonly thought of as an older persons disease, dementia can affect people of all ages.

Early symptoms of dementia can be vague and vary between people. While some people pick up on changes in their own thinking or behaviour that might be caused by dementia, sometimes these signs are first noticed by those around them.

If youve noticed a change in someone close to you, the steps below can help you assist them in seeking diagnosis and treatment.

Changes In Mood Or Emotion

The person may be more anxious, frightened or sad, and so at risk of depression. It is also common to become more irritable perhaps in frustration at lost abilities or easily upset. A person can often be more withdrawn, lack self-confidence and lose interest in hobbies or people.

Changes in behaviour are not common in early-stage dementia, other than in FTD. A person with behavioural variant FTD may lose their inhibitions and behave in socially inappropriate ways. They may also act impulsively and lose empathy for others.

Significant physical changes at this stage tend to be limited to DLB, where problems with movement are similar to Parkinsons disease. If someone with vascular or mixed dementia has a stroke, this can lead to weak limbs on one side.

Need help finding dementia information?

Everybody forgets things from time to time. But if you or other people are noticing that memory problems are getting worse, or affecting everyday life, it could be a sign of dementia.

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Conversations With The Experts: When Is Forgetfulness A Problem Explaining Early

You told your husband you had to work late tonight, but he says you never did. Its not the first time he didnt seem to hear something you said, and you feel a twinge of concern. He used to be a better listener. Hes only 50, but is it possible that theres something wrong with his memory?

Early-onset dementia is generally defined as dementia before age 65. Because dementia usually appears in older adults, its easy to write off signs and symptoms when they show up in middle-age especially since occasional forgetfulness is common and expected.

How do you know when forgetfulness is a regular part of life, and when its a problem? Richard J. Caselli, M.D., a Mayo Clinic neurologist with expertise in cognitive aging and Alzheimers disease, answers our questions about early-onset dementia.

What Is Mixed Dementia

Recognizing The Early Stages of Dementia

It is common for people with dementia to have more than one form of dementia. For example, many people with dementia have both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

Researchers who have conducted autopsy studies have looked at the brains of people who had dementia, and have suggested that most people age 80 and older probably have mixed dementia caused by a combination of brain changes related to Alzheimer’s disease,vascular disease-related processes, or another condition that involves the loss of nerve cell function or structure and nerve cell death .

Scientists are investigating how the underlying disease processes in mixed dementia start and influence each other. Further knowledge gains in this area will help researchers better understand these conditions and develop more personalized prevention and treatment strategies.

Other conditions that cause dementia-like symptoms can be halted or even reversed with treatment. For example, normal pressure hydrocephalus, an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, often resolves with treatment.

In addition, medical conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, and delirium can cause serious memory problems that resemble dementia, as can side effects of certain medicines.

Researchers have also identified many other conditions that can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms. These conditions include:

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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.

Increased Withdrawal From Loved Ones

Be sure to take into consideration that there are times when someone simply doesnt want to talk much.

Another early sign of dementia to be on the lookout for is an increase in withdrawal from loved ones and/or their active part in conversations. Your once seemingly friendly and outgoing grandma might find herself refusing to partake in any conversation or seeming lost or distant during any type of conversation.

Be sure to take into consideration that there are times when someone simply doesnt want to talk much, but if that behavior continues to occur and raise flags among other family members, you should consider it a possible early sign of dementia and take your loved one in for a checkup.

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Forgetting Names And Appointments Regularly

Aging can be quite difficult on our all-around mental ability, but there are certain forgetful occurrences that should be noted to keep track of frequency and intensity. As we get older, remembering everyones name can be rather difficult. You have a lot to remember from your many years on this earth, and that is understandable.

Forgetting appointments can also be common with the number of appointments on peoples schedules today. But when an aging loved one starts to forget appointments they just made, or forget a persons name they just met a couple of hours ago, it might be time to consider it could be an early sign of dementia. This is often the very first sign that loved ones notice and report to their aging loved ones doctor.

Coping With Lewy Body Dementia

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Coping with Lewy body dementia involves much more than your treatment plan. Its also essential to have access to social support and a safe home.

In the early stages of this condition, symptoms are typically milder, and people with LBD can function. However, as the disease progresses, there will be a severe decline in cognitive and motor abilities, and assisted care will be necessary.

Taking care of your physical healthy by exercising regularly and eating nutritious meals, is also important. Symptoms of anxiety and depression could develop as a result of this condition. Speaking to a therapist who has experience working with people who have dementia, will help.

Behavioral changes are to be expected with LBD. Keeping a diary to track your triggers and what times of the day you experience changes in your behavior, will help you understand your condition better.

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