Spotting the Early Signs of Dementia
We are all unique, and so is dementia. It affects people differently so no two people will have symptoms that develop in exactly the same way. However, while there is no standard “check list” for dementia, there are similar symptoms between those that develop the condition between Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.
The most common signs of dementia
It’s fair to say that most of us are forgetful from time-to-time! We might misplace our keys or wallet, or on occasion forget the name of someone or something. With dementia, these little moments become a little more common and sometimes more concerning. Often it’s not just a name that’s out of reach but who a person is, or perhaps the route home becomes a challenge to remember.
Those living with dementia may find it difficult to accurately verbalise their thoughts. It may become noticeable when the person uses an incorrect word or takes longer than usual to respond. Problems with language occur because the diseases that cause dementia can affect the parts of the brain that control language. In some forms of dementia, such as frontotemporal dementia, it is likely to be one of the first symptoms that is noticed.
Familiar tasks become difficult
At some point during the day, we all tend to do certain tasks on autopilot, like getting dressed, doing housework or making a meal. Those living with a form of dementia may start to get simple steps in these processes wrong. As well as struggling to complete familiar tasks, they may find it difficult to learn how to do new things or follow new routines.
It’s not uncommon for people living with dementia to lose track of where they are, as well as where they were going – even in a place they know well. Although we all lose track of the day of the week now and then, they may even become confused about the time of day, or even mix up night and day.
Changes in behaviour and mood
Behavioural changes are easiest to spot when you know someone well, but can be mistaken for stress, depression, or “just one of those days” – until it becomes most or all of those days. Sudden mood swings, noticeable agitation, major changes in emotional outlook, and even losing interest in hobbies or sleeping more than usual, may be an early sign of dementia.
Problems with concentration and planning
Those living with dementia can find it challenging to concentrate on things in any environment, including their own home. From difficulty organising a calendar, to planning clothing appropriate for the weather or having trouble following the plot on a television programme; there are numerous other communication and logic signs that can develop with dementia.
If you believe that a relative or someone you care about may be displaying signs of Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia, talk to your GP independently for advice. You can also read lots more great info on the Alzheimer's Society website and learn how dementia can be managed with the right care in the right environment.