Spotting the Early Signs of Dementia
It is completely normal to have problems with short term memory. Illnesses, stress, tiredness and some medications can all temporarily impact on memory.
In elderly relatives, forgetfulness can be common and it is sometimes assumed that dementia is the cause. However, that is not always the case. Having a good idea of the early signs and symptoms can help to distinguish the steps you should take in order to best care for your loved one.
Initial symptoms are often very mild, with changes happening gradually. This can be beneficial, as it gives you and the support system around the person who is experiencing memory loss time to adjust to and slow down the disease where possible
Unfortunately, there is currently no simple test to carry out to diagnose dementia, and early symptoms can be similar to age-related ones.
However, if you are ever concerned or worried about memory problems, or other symptoms which align with any of the first signs of dementia, it’s important you talk to your GP sooner rather than later to gain support.
Mood changes can happen for a number of reasons, whether that’s a change in environment, the seasons or perhaps another illness, for example depression, so is often not recognised as one of the dementia signs and symptoms.
However, noticing that a loved one may suddenly be experiencing low mood, seem exhausted, lacking motivation or short tempered could be the first signs of dementia.
Struggling to Find Words
One of the most common symptoms reported to GPs is the deterioration of vocabulary. This could be anything from struggling to follow or join a conversation, to stopping mid-sentence as the person loses their thread or isn’t sure how to continue.
An example of something which is normal and often age-related could be sometimes forgetting which word to use, however, signs of dementia could be more of an overall difficulty having a conversation and struggling to put together simple sentences.
Struggling with Familiar Tasks
Another of the frequent first signs of dementia is when a loved one has increasing difficulty completing daily tasks.
This could be anything, such as remembering the rules of a game, struggling to use a familiar appliance, locking and closing the front door, or turning off the oven.
Although it is common for everyone to lose things from time to time, especially in later years, an early warning sign of dementia is commonly misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.
As already highlighted, someone showing the first signs of dementia may begin to experience memory loss issues, particularly short-term memory loss.
This can mean that the person can still remember things that happened months or years ago vividly, but struggles to remember a conversation that took place recently.
It is normal for anyone to forget what day of the week it is, only to remember it later, but the signs and symptoms of dementia are more significant. For example: losing track of the date or season, forgetting what was eaten for lunch only minutes earlier or not being able to recall the reason for entering a room.
As a result of the memory loss, asking the same questions repeatedly can be an early indicator of dementia, as the person may not be able to remember a very recent conversation, or something spoken about only a few minutes earlier.
Another aspect of memory loss is overall confusion.
This could vary from a person being unsure where they are, or even who a previously familiar person is. The inability to hold onto short term, changeable information, such as the date and time can often cause confusion, and distress, as can the inability to understand how to complete tasks in the right order.
What is the Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia?
Dementia is a progressive neurological disorder caused by a variety of underlying illnesses or condition with varying stages and symptoms, of which there is currently no cure. Research studies are constantly being undertaken to gain more knowledge and insights into how we can help and support individuals who are seeking or who have a dementia diagnosis.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. This disease, like other causes of dementia, steadily gets worse over time affecting memory, language, and thoughts.
Getting a Dementia Diagnosis
Have you noticed some of the above in an elderly friend or loved one? If you see that they are being affected by two or more of these early warning signs of dementia, you should first try to discuss it with the individual before contacting the person’s GP for advice and support.
By acting quickly and speaking to a professional, it is easier to determine whether it is dementia or another cognitive or physical illness.
Dementia most commonly affects people over the age of 65, although can affect anyone, so if you notice any of the above symptoms it’s worth contacting a GP to discuss.
Moving into a Dementia Care Home
As time progresses, a person with dementia will often find it hard to continue to live independently, even with help and support from family members, and moving into a dementia care home can become a necessity.
We understand that choosing to move a loved one into a care home can be a highly challenging and emotional time, however we strive to always provide you and your family with dignified care and support.
If you have a loved one who you believe may be in need of a dementia care home or wish to consider the possibilities of other care services, then please contact us today to chat with one of our compassionate advisors who can help you to find the perfect care home.