Dementia is a condition that is, unfortunately, very present among our elderly population. What makes this fact even worse is that, in spite of our best intentions and will to help our affected friends and family members, we usually associate dementia with memory loss and are able to recognize its signs only in its later stages when finding a proper treatment becomes considerably harder. Here are a couple of signs that should help you recognize the early manifestation of dementia and find a more timely way to help your loved ones.
Difficulty completing familiar tasks
Take, for instance, something as mundane as preparing a meal. A person with symptoms may forget to serve a part of the meal or get lost in the recipe. Dementia will show first signs while a person is performing more complex tasks, like playing a game with convoluted rules or balancing a budget, and will gradually affect simpler activities like driving to a familiar location, or needing help while using the microwave and other house appliances.
Although drastic behavioral changes are more characteristic of the later stages of dementia, subtle nuances can be noticed very early. The problem is that people tend to neglect these changes because they can be caused by a wide variety of reasons. Some of them are loss of self-confidence, growing habit of following the partner, sleep disturbance, night-time walking, restlessness, and losing interest in usual activities. A sign that should help you recognize these problems are caused by dementia is that they tend to develop very gradually.
Changes in personality
Sometimes, dementia won’t only affect how persons behave, but strike at the very core of their personality. In these instances, we will see individuals who are usually determined gradually losing their initiative, and people who are marked by their high spirit will slowly sink into depression. Again, these issues can be caused by a completely different problem, but they are definitely something you should check and act as soon as you notice the first changes.
Inability to follow or create complex statements
One of the most common early symptoms. The affected person will show growing problems phrasing complex sentences, and forget commonly used words. As dementia progresses, that person will struggle to follow conversations or TV programs, which, in turn, may cause further personality changes and self-imposed seclusion. One of the first indicators that should draw your attention will be repeated questions and inability to grasp the meaning of some statements.
People often tend to be confused in the early stages of dementia. This confusion first manifests through small things we are all guilty of, like displacing keys, difficulty remembering a person from the past, forgetting small daily tasks and so on. These examples are mostly harmless, but if they become more frequent or develop into something more serious, like trouble finding the right words or difficulty in human interaction, you should definitely take action.
Out of all previous cases, poor decision-making or lack of it is probably hardest to identify, because they can be excused as personality traits. That is why you should pay the most attention to the behaviors that go against the traits of your loved ones. Other, more obvious signs that should raise concerns are excessive spending, hesitance, and inability to dress according to the weather.
Vascular dementia is, after Alzheimer’s, the second most common type of dementia. To make things worse, these two conditions sometimes go hand in hand (“mixed dementia”) in which case affected persons more often than not need to hire professional help or move to some of the customized aged care homes in order to perform their daily activities. Amongst other characteristic symptoms shared by all other types, vascular dementia often manifests through a frequent urge to urinate and similar bladder problems.
Fatigue and movement impairment
Dementia with Lewy bodies is the type of dementia which, by its reach, comes in third place after the two previously-mentioned conditions and it’s caused by small clumps of protein that build inside cells in the brain. The most notable signs are something we find common, like memory loss and decline in problem-solving skills. However, some other symptoms are much more specific and cover slow movements, tremors, muscle stiffness, unsteadiness, fainting and even visual hallucinations.
Developing obsessive habits
Finally, we have frontotemporal dementia (sometimes called Pick’s disease) which, fortunately, is not as wide-spread as other types and accounts for less than 5% of all dementia cases. Nevertheless, this condition is very dangerous and affects younger persons. First symptoms manifest as early as during the mid-forties. Affected persons will tend to show a lack of social awareness, and difficulty finding the right words, but one of the most indicating signs will be developing fads for overeating and drinking.
We hope that these few symptoms will help you see through the signs of dementia in its early stages. Your loved ones deserve the best help they can get. Make sure that help is timely.