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.
Changes In Abstract Thinking
Challenges with abstract thinking also characterize the onset of dementia. Persons with dementia will often have difficulties performing mental tasks.
For instance, conducting monetary transactions becomes such a huge deal that a person cannot even pay a bill.
Planning tasks, organizing projects and making proper decisions become more difficult. In line with this, a person with this illness may not know the steps to follow to prepare a meal or even put on clothes properly.
You may even lose such a person mid-conversation because their levels of concentration reduce significantly. The individuals may find themselves in danger, for instance, if they are driving and have problems with directions.
Mixing Up Time And Place
Since we already chatted about this earlier, it is worth adding it in its own paragraph. While everyone sometimes forgets about what day it is, even where they are going, it is not healthy if this starts happening regularly.
If that begins to occur TOO frequently, it could be one of the early signs of dementia.
Do observe the person as much as possible. Take them to the doctor as soon as possible if this new forgetfulness does not go away. Acting early enough and getting treatment before the condition progresses can alleviate it tremendously.
Also, if you happen to be the person who is sensing something weird happening to you, again, see the doctor or practitioner as soon as possible.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Early
For most people with early-onset Alzheimer disease, the symptoms closely mirror those of other forms of Alzheimer disease.
Withdrawal from work and social situations
Changes in mood and personality
Severe mood swings and behavior changes
Deepening confusion about time, place, and life events
Suspicions about friends, family, or caregivers
Trouble speaking, swallowing, or walking
Severe memory loss
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.
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Stage : Mild Dementia
At this stage, individuals may start to become socially withdrawn and show changes in personality and mood. Denial of symptoms as a defense mechanism is commonly seen in stage 4. Behaviors to look for include:
- Difficulty remembering things about one’s personal history
- Difficulty recognizing faces and people
In stage 4 dementia, individuals have no trouble recognizing familiar faces or traveling to familiar locations. However, patients in this stage will often avoid challenging situations in order to hide symptoms or prevent stress or anxiety.
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 setting up a power of attorney for someone with dementia.
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Dementia & Alzheimer’s Infographic
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< div style=”clear: both “> < a href=”https://keystone.health/early-warning-signs-dementia-alzheimers”> < img src=”https://keystone.health/images/resources/keystone-dementia-infographic.png” alt=”Dementia and Alzheimer’s Infographic” /> < /a> < br /> < br /> < a href=”https://keystone.health/early-warning-signs-dementia-alzheimers”> Early Warning Signs of Dementia & Alzheimer’s< /a> created by < a href=”https://keystone.health/”> Keystone Health< /a> < /div>
What Can You Do About It
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 10 seniors over the age of 65 has dementia. Though the disease affects each patient differently, most people with Alzheimer’s live only 4 to 8 years after diagnosis.
While you cannot reverse dementia or the damage it causes, there are ways to improve quality of life. Here are some simple tips for management that you can discuss with your doctor:
- Take prescription medications to counteract cognitive and behavioral symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
- Find support in the form of therapy, support groups, friends, or family to help develop coping mechanisms for cognitive and behavioral changes.
- Address safety issues in the home by installing safety bars in the bathroom and shower, automatic shut-off switches on appliances, and reminders to lock the door.
- Stay on top of co-existing conditions, working with your doctor to manage medical problems with the proper form of treatment.
- Follow a healthy diet that supports brain health and function. Focus on antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, natural sources of omega fatty acids, and foods high in fiber and protein.
- Talk to your doctor about taking supplements to support memory and cognitive function. Options you might consider include caprylic acid, coenzyme Q10, ginkgo biloba, phosphatidylserine, and omega-3 fatty acids.
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Forgetting How To Do Everyday Tasks
This is different to: more typical age-related forgetfulness such as needing help to record a tv programme or how to use the settings on a microwave oven.
Your parent may start to find it hard to complete daily tasks these might include the setting of a table, driving to a familiar location or remembering the rules of their favourite game.
Forgetting how to do everyday tasks can be spotted just by observing someone or by completing a Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam an early signs of dementia test which can be taken online.
However, this shouldnt be used as an official diagnostic tool you should always seek the advice of a GP. Other examples of forgetting how to do simple everyday tasks can include:
- Closing the fridge door
- Making a cup of tea or coffee
- Locking / closing the front door
- Managing a budget
Your parent may start to find it difficult to complete tasks they used to be able to do with ease. For example, if they used to be a fantastic baker, they may now find it hard to bake the sponge cake theyve made over and over again.
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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Optimize Exercise And Sleep
Exercise is beneficial to the brain because it:
- Supports the neural connections between movement of the body and the brain, improving gait. Gait change is an early sign of dementia and indicator of progression of disease [5
Tips for better sleep:
- Sleep consistency and routine: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Get ready for bed in the same way each day.
- Block blue light: Turn off electronics and wear blue light blocking glasses two hours before bed to help start melatonin production [51
- Block all light in your room: Use blackout curtains, covering lights from chargers and/or wearing a good sleep mask.
- Regulate temperature: Most people sleep best in a room that is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Understanding Symptoms Of Dementia: Cognition Vs Memory
Early signs of Alzheimers and other dementias include not only what we think of as typical memory loss but also cognition . So, whats the difference between cognition and memory, and why does that matter?
A memory is a stored pattern created by the neurons in the brain. Memory involves both manipulating and storing knowledge. In the brain, we constantly receive information . Our brain works with that knowledge and either uses it right away or stores that information in different ways for later use .
Cognition includes all forms of knowing, from knowing a process, to thinking through a chain of events, problem-solving, abstract thinking , and making decisions . Cognition is more about how our brain chunks information and allows us to use it for decisions and processing. For example, remembering that a stove is hot and if we touch it, we get burned, helps us decide to put oven mitts on our hands before we take something out of the oven.
Cognition includes memory, and we need memory in order to have cognitive ability. When were talking about memory or brain function, were also talking about cognitive ability how our brain processes and uses stored information . This is why people undergo cognitive testing as part of a dementia diagnosis. In dementia, we need to not only know how memory is working but also how the cognitive process is working.
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Acting Out Of Character
We all change as we move through life, but a clear warning sign of dementia is abrupt changes in your loved ones personality. Dementia can cause changes in the brain that affect the ability to know what is appropriate.Someone who has always been careful with their words may start saying whatever pops into their head. This can include often quite rude or sexually inappropriate comments. When your loved one is behaving out of character, it is often because of changes in the brain.
What You Might Notice: Your mom has drilled into you since birth the importance of tact and politeness. Shes never spoken badly of anyone, but the last time you talked to her she said, Have you noticed how fat your sister has gotten?
How You Can Help: Try not to get upset. This is the changes in your moms brain causing the inappropriate comments. Dont respond and change the subject to a more appropriate one.
Trouble Planning Or Problem Solving
Loved ones may have trouble planning ahead or making plans with others. This can be as simple as getting confused about a grocery list or losing track of their regular bills.
This is not just an occasional error in their checkbook or forgetting an item on their grocery list which can both be simple human errors.
Problem-solving is also difficult during cognitive decline. In the early stages of dementia, simple arithmetic may pose a problem.
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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
Is Dementia A Mental Illness
Dementia is a mental health disorder as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association changed the name to Major Neurocognitive Disorder, which is a mouthful. The change was made in order to provide a clearer description of the problem. Whats most important to know is that dementias can involve changes to emotions, behaviors, perceptions, and movements in addition to memory and thinking.
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Your Vision Is Patchy
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.
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.
Inability To Adapt To Change
Difficulty adapting to change is one of the typical early signs of dementia. The inability to recall peoples names or follow what others are talking about can cause nervousness and fear of new changes.
It makes someone with dementia almost obsessive about sticking to their usual routine. On the other hand, they are shying away from trying out new experiences.
Dementia can also alter the way how a person responds to different environments. They may be frustrated and irritated since they cannot follow whats happening in unfamiliar places.
Disruptive noise, conversations, large crowds, and movements may be overwhelming for them.
Moreover, they find it even more difficult to comprehend information in such surroundings.
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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Early Signs And Symptoms Of Frontotemporal Disorders
Frontotemporal disorders, commonly called frontotemporal dementia, are caused by a family of brain diseases known as frontotemporal lobar degeneration . These are estimated to account for up to 10 percent of all cases of dementia.
These diseases damage neurons in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, causing them to atrophy.
Frontotemporal disorders typically affect younger people more than other types of dementia. About 60 percent of people with FTLD are between the ages of 45 and 64.
In the early stages of frontotemporal disorders, people may have only one symptom. But as neurons in more and more parts of the brain become affected, other symptoms may develop.
Symptoms can vary significantly from person to person, but there are clusters of symptoms that tend to occur together.
Extreme changes in behavior and personality are the most common early signs of frontotemporal disorders and can include these differences:
- Inappropriate social behavior that becomes progressively worse
- Loss of interpersonal skills, including empathy
- Lack of inhibition or judgment
- Overeating or other changes related to eating habits
- Consuming inedible objects
- Lack of awareness of cognitive or behavioral changes
Some people with frontotemporal disorders experience problems with speech and language. These symptoms can include the following:
Watch For These Symptoms
Urban says to be alert for symptoms of dementia, including:
- Forgetting familiar names and faces: People of all ages struggle to remember names. There is no need to worry if an aging loved one cannot recall a persons name after meeting him or her for the first time. However, forgetting the names of close friends or failing to recognize them at all is a sign its time to seek medical help.
- Unable to recall experiences and actions: A common finding in dementia is difficulty in remembering conversations or experiences. For example, a loved one may ask the same question multiple times or repeatedly tell the same story during a conversation. Also, patients with dementia may not recall specific details of an event. Dont be overly alarmed if someone doesnt recall the exact year he or she took a trip to Europe, but be concerned if he or she has no recollection of ever traveling overseas.
- Financial issues: Be on the lookout for overdue bills and irregular spending, as both are common signs of memory impairment in people who are typically careful with their finances. Dementia can cause people to overlook unpaid bills or purchase items they already own or simply do not need.
- Getting lost: Struggling to remember how to get to familiar locations such as home, church or a favorite restaurant is a warning sign of dementia.
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