What Are 10 Early Signs Of Dementia
Dementia affects people differently. Likewise, the beginning symptoms of dementia may vary from person to person. But there are common early warning signs to watch for. Looking for patterns of these behaviors may help you identify signs your parent may have dementia.
Your loved one should see a doctor if you notice any of the following 10 signs of dementia, according to the CDC. The doctor may run tests to determine what is causing your family members symptoms.
Risk Factors And Prevention
Although age is the strongest known risk factor for dementia, it is not an inevitable consequence of biological ageing. Further, dementia does not exclusively affect older people young onset dementia accounts for up to 9% of cases. Studies show that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline and dementia by being physically active, not smoking, avoiding harmful use of alcohol,controlling their weight, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Additional risk factors include depression, social isolation, low educational attainment, cognitive inactivity and air pollution.
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.
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Problems With Speech And Writing
Dementia affects how a person speaks and understands language, making it difficult for them to find the right words. They may also have trouble following conversations. Similarly, people with dementia struggle to spell or write sentences.
Pay attention to whether theres a decline in writing ability. Perhaps theyre struggling to write a message in a birthday card or understand a story told by their grandchild.
Assessing Your Mental Abilities
A specialist will usually assess your mental abilities using a special series of questions.
One widely used test is the mini mental state examination . This involves being asked to carry out activities such as memorising a short list of objects correctly and identifying the current day of the week, month and year. Different memory clinics may also use other, longer tests.
The MMSE isn’t used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, but it’s useful to initially assess areas of difficulty that a person with the condition may have. This helps specialists to make decisions about treatment and whether more tests are necessary.
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What We Can Do To Help:
If after looking over this information you have questions or concerns about your loved one, please contactDementiaSupport for assistance with where to go next. We constantly receive calls from worried caregivers wanting the best for their loved ones. Remember that at DementiaSupport you are not alone. We know that you want the best care for your loved ones and we are here to help you as best we can. We also know that it can be overwhelming and upsetting when trying to care for your loved ones. Sometimes when dealing with symptoms of dementia it can even be embarrassing, but remember that this is part of the disease, and know that there are ways to support and even change some of these behaviours. Acknowledge that by reading this information you are taking the first step to improving the quality of life of your loved ones.
If your loved one is experiencing signs and symptoms of dementia, contact us to learn how you can improve their care and use simple tools to help with their daily living. We have lots of experience and are happy to pass on any resources to you.
Dementia & Alzheimer’s Infographic
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Challenges With Visual Images And Balance
Dementia not only affects cognitive abilities it affects people physically, too. Early physical signs of dementia include difficulty with balance or judging distances, sleeping issues, forgetting to eat, and wandering. Spilling or dropping items often may be another sign theyre experiencing the physical effects of dementia.
Remember that your loved one might be covering up symptoms of dementia because theyre embarrassed or worried about the changes. So look for signs such as bruising from a fall or a broken drinking glass from the day before.
Struggling To Adapt To Change
For someone in the early stages of dementia, the experience can cause fear. Suddenly, they cant remember people they know or follow what others are saying. They cant remember why they went to the store, and they get lost on the way home.
Because of this, they might crave routine and be afraid to try new experiences. Difficulty adapting to change is also a typical symptom of early dementia.
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When Are Memory Issues A Cause For Concern
While an occasional lapse in memory is an unlikely cause for concern, it’s important to be proactive when it comes to frequent memory issues or memory lapses that disrupt daily life.
“Everyone misplaces their keys occasionally, but when any of these things begin happening much more frequently than before, it could potentially indicate the beginnings of a brain problem,” said Dr. Fredericks.
Early signs of dementia can extend beyond lapses in memory or cognitive functioning. Unfortunately, people in the early stages of dementia tend to be more aware of the cognitive changes but are less likely to recognize other signs, such as personality and relationship changes.10
Although it can be difficult to talk about these things if you notice these changes in your loved one, it’s worth suggesting they get evaluated as a precautionary measure.
“Either way, it’s a good idea to be assessed sooner rather than later in order to get counseling about treatment that may help you and to plan for the future,” said Dr. Fredericks. Delaying a visit to a healthcare provider may put your loved one’s health and well-being at risk.
“If there is any question of a safety issue or potential for harm, that is absolutely when you would mention it,” said Dr. Billars.
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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Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition, which means the symptoms develop gradually and become more severe over the course of several years. It affects multiple brain functions.
The first sign of Alzheimer’s disease is usually minor memory problems. For example, this could be forgetting about recent conversations or events, and forgetting the names of places and objects.
As the condition develops, memory problems become more severe and further symptoms can develop, such as:
- confusion, disorientation and getting lost in familiar places
- difficulty planning or making decisions
- problems with speech and language
- problems moving around without assistance or performing self-care tasks
- personality changes, such as becoming aggressive, demanding and suspicious of others
- hallucinations and delusions
- low mood or anxiety
Read more about the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
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
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Symptoms Specific To Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy bodies has many of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and people with the condition typically also experience:
- periods of being alert or drowsy, or fluctuating levels of confusion
- visual hallucinations
- becoming slower in their physical movements
- repeated falls and fainting
Read more about dementia with Lewy bodies.
What Is Dementia Symptoms Types And Diagnosis
Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning thinking, remembering, and reasoning to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Some people with dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may change. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of living.
Dementia is more common as people grow older but it is not a normal part of aging. Many people live into their 90s and beyond without any signs of dementia.
There are several different forms of dementia, including Alzheimers disease. A persons symptoms can vary depending on the type.
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What’s The Life Expectancy Of A Person With Dementia
Theres no easy way to answer this question. Dementia is an umbrella term that covers the many different types of underlying neurodegenerative diseases.
Each type of neurodegenerative disease has its own unique pattern and development in each person. Also, each person has a unique health profile. Some people may be relatively healthy and others may have several co-existing health issues. All of these factors play a role in the pace of decline in a person with dementia.
To answer more broadly, Alzheimers is the most common type of dementia. The average lifespan after the earliest symptoms is eight years. However, some people have lived as long as 20 years after an Alzheimers disease diagnosis.
Trouble With Visual Images Or Spatial Relationships
People with Alzheimers can develop vision problems that are above and beyond age-related issues such as cataracts. They may have difficulty reading, determining colour or patterns, or judging distance. They might think that someone else is looking at them from a mirror or be unable to see a meal apart from the plate it is on. At Dementia Support, we combat these issues by providing clean and open spaces, to make tasks as simple and straight forward as possible. We avoid complex patterning and unnecessary clutter to prevent any stress that may be caused by an inability to comprehend what those suffering from Alzheimers are looking at.
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When To See A Doctor
Forgetfulness may be a normal part of aging and is not always caused by a neurodegenerative brain disease such as Alzheimers. If you happen to suspect someone you know is suffering from early onset dementia symptoms and doesnt show any signs of improving, it may be a good idea to have them speak to a doctor to get neurological testing.
Often, a neurologist is required to assess dementia through a physical exam and ordering various tests to determine mental health. There are many things a neurologist can do in the office that can be a good indicator to whether the patient truly is suffering from dementia or not.
Typically, dementia affects persons of advanced age, usually over the age of 65, but it is possible for individuals to be affected as early as their 30s, 40s, or 50s. Earlier age of onset may have additional factors playing a role in the accelerated and early presentation of those individuals, such as genetics. While dementia, in general, may be difficult to treat, early recognition and diagnosis may aid in slowing the progression of the disease, allowing the ability to take the steps to prevent further mental deterioration.
Symptoms Specific To Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia, after Alzheimer’s. Some people have both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, often called “mixed dementia”.
Symptoms of vascular dementia are similar to Alzheimer’s disease, although memory loss may not be as obvious in the early stages.
Symptoms can sometimes develop suddenly and quickly get worse, but they can also develop gradually over many months or years.
Specific symptoms can include:
- stroke-like symptoms: including muscle weakness or temporary paralysis on one side of the body
- movement problems difficulty walking or a change in the way a person walks
- thinking problems having difficulty with attention, planning and reasoning
- mood changes depression and a tendency to become more emotional
Read more about vascular dementia.
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The Alzheimers Disease Continuum
A few decades ago, the terms Alzheimers disease and Alzheimers dementia tended to be used interchangeably. Nowadays, Alzheimers dementia is considered as a stage of Alzheimers disease.
Alzheimers disease begins many years before symptoms become apparent, and develops gradually over time. Progression along a continuum from presymptomatic Alzheimers disease to symptomatic Alzheimers dementia tends to be slow and subtle.
It is important to understand that progression along the Alzheimers disease continuum varies widely from person to person, and that each persons experience of Alzheimers disease will be unique to them.
Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease
In the preclinical stage of Alzheimers disease, amyloid plaques and tau tangles start accumulating in the brain. However, there are no outward signs of disease, and these changes can only be detected using brain imaging scans or biomarker tests, which are not yet routinely used in clinical practice. The preclinical stage of Alzheimers disease can last many years, or even decades.
Mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease
Mild Cognitive Impairment is often considered as the stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal ageing and the more significant decline of dementia. It may increase a persons risk of later developing dementia but some people with mild cognitive impairment dont deteriorate further and some eventually get better.
Warning Signs Of Alzheimer’s
Memory often changes as people grow older. Some people notice changes in themselves before anyone else does. For other people, friends and family are the first to see changes in memory, behavior, or abilities. Memory loss that disrupts daily life is not a typical part of aging. People with one or more of these 10 warning signs should see a doctor to find the cause. Early diagnosis gives them a chance to seek treatment and plan for the future.
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life: forgetting events, repeating yourself or relying on more aids to help you remember .
2.Challenges in planning or solving problems: having trouble paying bills or cooking recipes you have used for years.
3.Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure: having problems with cooking, driving places, using a cell phone, or shopping.
4.Confusion with time or place: having trouble understanding an event that is happening later, or losing track of dates.
5.Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relations: having more difficulty with balance or judging distance, tripping over things at home, or spilling or dropping things more often.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alzheimers Association have created the Healthy Brain Initiatives State and Local Public Health Partnerships to Address Dementia: The 2018-2023 Road Map.
8. being a victim of a scam, not managing money well, paying less attention to hygiene, or having trouble taking care of a pet.
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Disproportionate Impact On Women
Globally, dementia has a disproportionate impact on women. Sixty-five percent of total deaths due to dementia are women, and disability-adjusted life years due to dementia are roughly 60% higher in women than in men. Additionally, women providethe majority of informal care for people living with dementia, accounting for 70% of carer hours.
What Is Alzheimers Disease
Dementia is the term applied to a group of symptoms that negatively impact memory, but Alzheimers is a specific progressive disease of the brain that slowly causes impairment in memory and cognitive function. The exact cause is unknown, and no cure is available.
Although younger people can and do get Alzheimers, the symptoms generally begin after age 65.
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Conditions With Symptoms Similar To Dementia
Remember that many conditions have symptoms similar to dementia, so it is important not to assume that someone has dementia just because some of the above symptoms are present. Strokes, depression, excessive long-term alcohol consumption, infections, hormonal disorders, nutritional deficiencies and brain tumours can all cause dementia-like symptoms. Many of these conditions can be treated.
Why You Should Make An Appointment Now
The sooner you know, the better. Starting treatment may help relieve symptoms and keep you independent longer.
It also helps you plan better. You can work out living arrangements, make financial and legal decisions, and build up your support network.
Alzheimerâs Association: â10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s,â âDiagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia,â âWhat Is Dementia?â
University of California San Francisco: âAlzheimer’s Disease Signs and Symptoms.â
National Institute on Aging: “Forgetfulness: Knowing When To Ask For Help.”
American Psychological Association: “Aging: When should I be concerned about a senior’s forgetfulness?”
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