Seeing a loved one lose all memories of you is never easy.
And while you may feel disheartened, all is not lost if you notice the signs of dementia early on. Now, you may wonder when exactly is “early” since dementia is more common among the elderly. But dementia is not always related to aging.
That said, more than 55 million people currently have dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common form of the syndrome.
Despite being such a common condition, dementia is still poorly understood. As little knowledge is more dangerous than no knowledge at all, false beliefs and perceptions often lead to stigmatizing attitudes against people who have dementia.
Hence, this blog attempts to create more awareness and destigmatize dementia. Only then can we ensure a quality of life for those with the condition and their families. Here are the 10 early signs of dementia:
Difficulty Performing Everyday Tasks
The first sign of dementia is the inability to perform simple everyday tasks. While it is only human to err, people with dementia may struggle with daily tasks like following a recipe or keeping track of bills.
They may lose focus while performing a particular activity, take longer to complete them, or become unable to do them without assistance. Besides familiar tasks, they may find it challenging to do something new or follow a new routine.
Forgetting Old Memories
Persistent memory loss is another common sign of dementia. Here, you must note that fatigue and multitasking may cause occasional memory lapses. But if it becomes frequent and somewhat worse, get in touch with a doctor or healthcare professional.
Loss Of Interest
People with dementia may often feel listless and lose interest in hobbies they used to enjoy. They may further lose interest in meeting family and friends or participating in social gatherings.
Dementia causes deterioration in cognitive function, which can lead to erratic mood swings and stark changes in personality. As such, you may notice people with dementia suddenly feeling depressed, confused, anxious, fearful, etc.
Subtle Short-term Memory Changes
Besides older memories, people with dementia tend to forget recent happenings too. For instance, they may forget what they had for breakfast or why they entered a particular room.
Another sign of dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s, is repeating the same story or question while conversing. This repetition may be seen in their daily activities, too, like bathing, washing hands, collecting items obsessively, etc.
Since dementia causes language and communication impairment, people with the syndrome may have trouble communicating their thoughts. They may not be able to find the right words, have difficulty joining in and following conversations, etc.
A person with dementia may not be able to make wise decisions. For instance, they may walk across a busy street without checking the traffic lights. Or, they may not handle money properly, despite having generally good financial judgment in the past.
Loss Of Visual And Spatial Abilities
Dementia also causes the degradation of visual and spatial intelligence. As such, the affected person may forget their way home, may not be able to recognize familiar landmarks, etc.
Consequently, following instructions and referring to a map becomes more and more challenging for them.
Routinely forgetting what day it is and losing track of time are major red flags. So, if you notice a loved one often feeling confused about their surroundings, do not waste any more time and visit a doctor.
What To Do Next
The first step is to visit a primary care physician, preferably one you know personally. They can refer you to a neurologist, psychiatrist, or geriatrician to give you a definitive diagnosis.
If you cannot find a suitable specialist, contact the neurology department of a nearby medical facility. Or, you may check in nearby hospitals, as some may have clinics specializing in dementia.
How Is Dementia Diagnosed
The specialist may ask questions regarding the affected person’s medical history, habits, etc. Thereafter, they may conduct neurological and physical exams such as:
Tests such as PET imaging, MRI, and CT scans can help identify issues in the brain structure, like tumors, strokes, etc.
Albeit not a primary requirement in diagnosing dementia, doctors may require them for measuring beta-amyloid levels.
Cognitive And Neuropsychological Tests:
These assess the patient’s mental functioning and problem-solving skills.
In the case of the early onset form of Alzheimer’s, a person’s genes may be causing the symptoms.
This test determines if a certain mental health condition is influencing the symptoms.
It’s important to note that the diagnostic process for dementia can be complex and may involve multiple tests and evaluations depending on the symptoms. A thorough assessment by a specialist can help ensure an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.
If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the symptoms discussed, please seek medical attention as soon as possible. Early detection and diagnosis of dementia can help with better management of symptoms and improve quality of life.
It’s also important to know that many resources are available for support and assistance for those dealing with dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Association and other organizations offer education, counseling, and support services for individuals and families affected by dementia. Don’t hesitate to seek help and support during this challenging time. Remember, you’re not alone.