THE TOP 8 EARLY SIGNS OF DEMENTIA EVERYONE MUST KNOW
Though many of us may suffer from mild cognitive impairment and short-term memory loss from time to time, early-onset dementia and people with Alzheimer’s disease is a completely different set of problems altogether. Watching a loved one age can be difficult at times with increasing health problems and mental deterioration causing heartache in many families. And while it may seem scary for the family of the aging loved one, it is also important to remember how someone with dementia might feel. They could be scared, confused, and overwhelmed with the new feelings and loss of mental function that they were once used to. It is important to be supportive and caring during this time as your loved one starts to experience signs of aging.
One of the ailments that can affect our loved ones as they grow older is dementia—a form of memory loss that can affect such things as the completion of daily tasks and the severe impediment of their daily life.
However, it can be difficult to identify dementia and cognitive decline in our aging family members due to the lack of knowledge surrounding the early signs of dementia that can be easily mistaken for other aging ailments of an elderly person. However, knowing the early signs of dementia can help you and your loved one identify any possibilities of developing dementia in an effort to start early treatment to help alleviate some of the symptoms (dementia is not a curable disease).
There are a number of different types of dementia that may show different symptoms, such as vascular dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia, to name but a few. Dementia creates significant physical changes in the brain, leading to different reactions to take place such as memory loss and disorientation.
Here are the top 8 early signs of dementia you should be on the lookout for in your family members:
1. Difficulty Remembering Recent Events
Imagine sitting around a family dinner table talking about the previous day’s outing at the farmer’s market with your entire family. Everyone is laughing and reminiscing about the sizes of the fruit you saw and the delectable treats you tasted along the way. Suddenly, you look over and see your grandfather struggling to add to the conversation (or even keep up with what is being said). It’s as if the entire event from the day before was entirely new to him and he could not remember anything. Once you tell him what happened and how he was involved at the market, he starts to piece back together his memories to form a semi-similar recollection of what you were talking about with your family. This is an early sign of dementia where your grandfather cannot easily remember recent events enough to talk about them with ease and no assistance.
2. Completing Daily Tasks Becomes More Difficult
You could very well take for granted the ability to brush your teeth on your own or walk to the mailbox by yourself. These are very common daily tasks that you have done for years and years. None of it should be difficult, right? But an early sign of dementia is the increasing difficulty in completing daily tasks. Your aging loved one might find brushing their teeth something that takes quite the effort, walking to the mailbox takes longer than it used to, and washing dishes in the sink gets messier than you ever experienced before. This is an early sign of dementia. Be sure to listen for any complaints from your aging loved ones to be ready to help get them help if they need it as soon as possible!
3. Reduced Concentration
This world can be really hard to concentration in on a regular basis for any age with the increasing amounts of technology all around us at all times. But, when a senior starts to complain that they cannot complete the word puzzle that they once could complete during their breakfast time or if they begin to complain that reading a chapter in a book has become a daunting task, it is time to consider that it could be an early sign of dementia. When a senior citizen experiences reduced concentration, frustration can arise and tempers can flair—they’re not used to be unable to concentrate on the simplest tasks. Be considerate of their feelings and understand that they are facing a difficult time. If your loved one starts complaining of losing concentration of even the shortest time span for a task, consider a doctor’s opinion to see if this could be an early sign of dementia.
4. Increased Withdrawal from Loved Ones
Another early sign of dementia to be on the lookout for is an increase in withdrawal from loved ones and/or their active part in conversations. Your once seemingly friendly and outgoing grandma might find herself refusing to partake in any conversation or seeming lost or distant during any type of conversation. Be sure to take into consideration that there are times when someone simply doesn’t want to talk much, but if that behavior continues to occur and raise flags among other family members, you should consider it a possible early sign of dementia and take your loved one in for a checkup.
5. Frequent Disorientation
Being a little dizzy or disorientated in a large shopping mall among thousands of people during the holiday season is one thing, but becoming disoriented in a line at Starbucks with five people could be a cause for concern. Maybe your elderly loved one frequented Starbucks daily and suddenly finds the exact same location to be confusing for them and throw them for a major loop while they’re waiting for their coffee. Maybe they find themselves 20 miles from their original destination because they didn’t recognize where they were or how they got on the road in the first place. This is called disorientation and can be an early sign of dementia among elderly people. It is important to recognize when these things happen so that you can catch it before it becomes an even bigger issue like getting into a wreck on the interstate because they were panicking from losing their way or losing their temper in the middle of the grocery store because they suddenly cannot remember how they got there or where they are in the first place.
6. Rapid/Sudden Changes in Mood, Behavior, or Personality
When a person starts to exhibit this early sign of dementia, you may notice a sudden change in how they act, how they react, or their overall personality. At one moment you may think that they are their same old self and the next they could be laughing uncontrollably when they barely laughed at all before. Or, they might be entirely too quick to get angry when before they were very even-keeled and calm. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone has their “off” days where emotions can flare and tempers can rise, but when this becomes a regular and sudden occurrence, it is important to recognize that it might be an early sign of dementia and seek medical attention.
7. Forgetting Names and Appointments Regularly
Aging can be quite difficult on our all-around mental ability, but there are certain forgetful occurrences that should be noted to keep track of frequency and intensity. As we get older, remembering everyone’s name (especially new people or someone you haven’t seen in quite a while) can be rather difficult. You have a lot to remember from your many years on this earth, and that is understandable. Forgetting appointments can also be common with the number of appointments on people’s schedules today. But when an aging loved one starts to forget appointments they just made, or forget a person’s name they just met a couple of hours ago, it might be time to consider it could be an early sign of dementia. This is often the very first sign that loved ones notice and report to their aging loved one’s doctor.
8. Increasing Difficulty Finding Words
When we have so much going through our minds on a daily basis, it can be hard to find the words we’re looking for when we’re in the middle of conversations. That’s to be expected. But when you notice an aging loved one start to struggle to find words during their conversations on a regular basis or in almost every conversation, this could be an early sign of dementia. Your loved one might be good at finding synonyms for their ‘lost’ word, but the struggle to come up with that synonym could definitely signal a real issue with their memory.
These top 8 early signs of dementia can help you identify an issue for your loved one before the issue of dementia becomes too big to handle. While dementia is not a curable disease, it can be treated and kept at bay in a relatively easy manner when caught early enough. As your loved ones start to age, be aware of their actions and words as often as possible! The earlier you can spot the early signs of dementia, the better off your family will be.
While dementia is not a curable disease, it can be treated and kept at bay in a relatively easy manner when caught early enough.