10 Early Signs of Dementia You Shouldn’t Ignore

Dementia is a term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Although dementia mainly affects older adults, it is not a normal part of aging. Recognising the early signs can lead to a diagnosis, opening the door to treatment and support that can significantly improve quality of life. This article delves into the 10 early signs of dementia that you shouldn’t ignore.

Memory Loss That Disrupts Daily Life

One of the most common signs of early dementia is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. This might include forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information repeatedly, or increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for tasks they used to handle on their own.

Difficulty Planning or Solving Problems

Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. This could manifest as trouble following a familiar recipe, managing monthly bills, or difficulty concentrating and taking much longer to do things than before.

Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks at Home, at Work, or at Leisure

People with dementia often find it hard to complete daily tasks. They may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work, or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

Confusion with Time or Place

Losing track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time is a common sign of dementia. People with dementia can lose track of where they are or how they got there.

Trouble Understanding Visual Images and Spatial Relationships

For some, having vision problems is a sign of dementia. This may lead to difficulty reading, judging distance, and determining color or contrast, potentially causing problems with driving.

New Problems with Words in Speaking or Writing

People with dementia may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word, or call things by the wrong name.

Misplacing Things and Losing the Ability to Retrace Steps

A person with dementia may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.

Decreased or Poor Judgment

Changes in judgment or decision-making can also be a sign. This can manifest as poor judgment when dealing with money, like giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

Withdrawal from Work or Social Activities

A person with early dementia might start to withdraw from hobbies, social activities, work projects, or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite team or activity.

Changes in Mood and Personality

The mood and personalities of people with dementia can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends, or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

Recognising these early signs of dementia is crucial for seeking timely medical intervention. Early diagnosis gives you a better chance of benefiting from treatment, planning for the future, and living an active, fulfilled life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider to discuss what they mean and what can be done.

Conclusion

Awareness of the early signs of dementia is crucial for early intervention and support. Recognising these signs in ourselves or our loved ones and seeking professional advice can make a significant difference in managing the condition and maintaining quality of life. With the right support and care, individuals with dementia can continue to lead meaningful lives. If you’re looking for dementia care and support for a family member, contact us for a free assessment.

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