One in three people in the UK will develop dementia, 66% of them women. If the symptomsof dementia are detected early enough, they can be controlled and the person can continue to enjoy a good quality of life. Keep an ‘early signs of dementia’ checklist close to hand and if you spot any of these symptoms, the person may benefit from a further assessment.
1 – Memory Problems
Becoming more forgetful as we age is not uncommon. We all misplace our keys occasionally or miss an appointment. However, forgetting what day it is or where you live is not normal, and is very often an early sign of dementia.
2 – Confusion
Watch out for periods of confusion. In the early stages of dementia, the person might become confused about where they are, or start talking about events that happened in the past more than normal. Disorientation, especially away from home, is a red flag.
3 – Personality Changes
If a person with a previously sunny disposition becomes irritable and aggressive, this could be an early sign of dementia. Rapid mood swings are common; some people become less inhibited and display overly sexualized behaviour.
4 – Withdrawal and Depression
Depression is common in the early stages. The person is aware something isn’t right, but they don’t know what the problem is. They might lose interest in hobbies or stop going out because they are afraid of becoming disoriented or confused.
5 – Difficulty with Common Tasks
Spatial skills and abstract thinking skills are amongst the first to suffer as brain cells begin to die. People with early signs of dementia often have problems dealing with money. They lose the ability to balance a cheque book or pay a bill. They might also have a problem judging distance when driving, even if they have previously been a safe driver.
6 – Language Problems
The language centre of the brain is affected in the early stages of dementia. If the person is having a problem finding the right words or struggles to build coherent sentences, they could be suffering from dementia. ‘Word soup’ is common, which is where the person comes out with a string of unrelated words.
7 – Poor Judgement
Con artists and crooks often target older people. They are considered ‘soft targets’ because many seniors lack judgement and are quick to hand over money. Keep a close eye on your elderly relative and make sure he or she is not demonstrating poor judgement. If they start dressing inappropriately or spending unusual sums of money, these are both warning signs.
Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s a term that references a number of symptoms related to a decline in thinking skills and memory. There are many different forms of dementia, but all of them steal the person you love and leave nothing but a shell behind. The person you once knew is lost and becomes a complete stranger. If you suspect there is a problem, speak to the person’s doctor and organise a dementia assessment. If you want to ensure the well-being of an older relative with dementia at home, this page may interest you.