Dementia is a soul-destroying illness that devastates the lives of both its victims and their friends and loved ones. It changes its victims from normal, healthy, mentally active human beings, into shadows of their former selves. This robs them of many of their cognitive abilities including memory, although it should be understood that each disease under the “umbrella” heading of dementia, has its own particular symptoms, which may or may not include memory loss.
12 early warning signs of dementia that anyone over 40 needs to know
What is dementia?
Dementia is not in itself a disease; rather, it is the name given to categorize some mental disorders they include:
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)
- Dementia with Lewy Bodies
- Frontotemporal Dementia
- Huntington’s Disease
- Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Vascular Dementia
- Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
All in all, there are over 100 different types of dementia. All types of dementia are progressive which means that the brain becomes more and more damaged with the passage of time. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s, accounting for more than 50% of all types of the disease. It is estimated that over 5 million people are suffering from some form of dementia right here in the US alone, right now!
Dementia Affects Different People in Different Ways
Dementia affects people in different ways, depending on various factors such as the individual’s personality, their emotional stability, their physical characteristics, and also the amount of support they are given. At this point in time, there is no cure, but early diagnosis is important so treatment can begin at the earliest opportunity.
Treatment that can slow down the progression of the disease and help to manage/mitigate some of its symptoms. Here in this article, we are going to go over 12 of the signs to look for that might indicate that dementia of some kind is beginning to set in.
12 Early Warning Signs of Dementia
#1 – Short Term Memory Problems
Having problems with short term memory can be an early sign that dementia is setting in. In the beginning, the changes are quite subtle. As an example, someone may be able to recall the events of many years ago with clarity, and yet not be able to remember what they had for dinner last night.
They may also have problems remembering where they put something down, or even why they entered a particular room, or what they had their agenda for any specific day.
#2 – Difficulty with Choosing a Suitable Word
Another potential early sign of dementia is when a victim has difficulty with being able to put their thoughts into words. It often appears that the victim is trying to desperately remember a specific word that they just can’t seem to get a handle on. This often means that trying to have a meaningful conversation with someone in the early stages of dementia can be quite difficult, and may take far longer than it would ordinarily.
#3 – Mood Swings
Another of the early signs that could be an indication that dementia is setting in is mood swings. It’s often the case with dementia that victims can become depressed for short periods of time. A change of personality could also accompany this change of mood.
For example, someone who is ordinarily quite shy might suddenly appear to be quite bubbly and outgoing, which may mean that their judgment in any given situation is becoming impaired.
#4 – Lethargy
People who are in the early stages of developing dementia may also seem to be somewhat lethargic. It is quite common for victims to lose interest in doing anything, including things that they have enjoyed doing in the past, such as, for example, a favorite hobby.
They may also be very reticent about going out, will often show signs of losing interest in being with friends or family. It often appears as if they are emotionally bereft.
#5 – Difficulties with Making Plans or Problem Solving
In the early stages of dementia, some people find difficulty in either planning to do things or trying to follow a plan that they’ve previously conceived. Others experience problems when trying to work or deal with numbers. It’s part of an overall decline in the ability to be able to concentrate on anything.
#6 – Finding it Difficult to Complete Ordinary Everyday Chores
Another of the early symptoms of dementia is when victims suddenly find it difficult to carry out ordinary, everyday tasks that they have been doing previously for many years almost without thinking. Things like being able to drive to a once familiar location can prove challenging, as can trying to remember the rules of a simple game they have often played before.
#7 – Difficulty in Understanding Time
Time can become meaningless to people in the early stages of dementia. Time is relative, and making associations with past, present, and future can prove unfathomable. Victims often cannot understand why something shouldn’t be happening at the present moment in time. Being told that something will happen tomorrow or next week might not seem to make any sense to them.
#8 – Having Difficulty Recognizing Places
Dementia sufferers may sometimes not recognize where they are. Even being in their homes may not seem familiar. Also, they may suddenly realize that they are in a specific place, but have no memory or knowledge of how they got there.
#9 – Experiencing Problems with Writing
In the same way that some people have difficulty in being able to find the right word when they’re trying to explain something, they can also have the same problem with the written word, making the job of writing a strenuous and frustrating affair.
#10 – Becoming Repetitive
Another sign to watch out for in someone developing dementia is that they may often repeat something they’ve said, or a question they asked and already had answered earlier in a conversation. There may also be a susceptibility towards repeating actions too, like brushing teeth or having a shave.
#11 – Trying to Avoid Change
Many people do not like change, but with people who are suffering the onset of dementia, the realization can be very frightening; especially certain aspects of their experiences, like getting lost, or not remembering why they’re in a certain place. To try and prevent this, they will not want to try or do, anything new.
#12 – Not Being Able to Follow a Storyline
We mentioned earlier that people who are experiencing the onset of dementia have difficulty in focusing their concentration. This can also manifest itself in losing track of storylines, either during an account that someone is relating, or while watching a drama on TV.
If you recognize any of these signs or symptoms in anyone you know or love, it could be a warning that they are developing dementia. You need to take prompt action, and see if you can get a proper medical diagnosis. The earlier it is recognized, the earlier treatment can begin.
It is regrettably incurable, but with the right support, counseling, and care, it can be managed, help lessen the dangers to the unfortunate victim, and help friends and loved ones to weather the storm. For more information about dementia, log on to the Alzheimer’s Organization website by clicking on this link.
The Alzheimer’s Society website: http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents.php?categoryID=200363
The Healthline website: Old Age or Something Else? 10 Early Signs of Dementia – http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/early-warning-signs-dementia
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