Dementia is prevalent among the elderly, but as it can take years for the illness to progress, sometimes it can be difficult to get a diagnosis until the advanced stages. Another reason why people don’t get diagnosed with dementia early is that a lot of the symptoms resemble a simple forgetfulness. If you’re hoping to be able to identify early signs of dementia in people you love, we’ve put together a list of tell-tale signs that can help you.
This is the most common early sign of dementia, but people dismiss it because they don’t think it’s important so early on. It can manifest by the person forgetting where they put their keys, or whether they bought something when they went to the supermarket. Occasionally forgetting an appointment is okay, as it can happen to us all, but if you notice that the person started forgetting things more often than before, it might be a good idea to consult a doctor who will be able to do a complete assessment.
Difficulty with tasks
A person in the early stage of dementia might forget to put sugar in their coffee or to add salt to a meal they’re preparing, but these things will eventually progress further until the person is unable to complete their regular, everyday tasks. The shift is subtle at first, but later on, a person might have problems brushing their teeth, combing their hair, getting dressed or using the bathroom. When this happens, it might be best to move them to an aged care facility where people specialize in dementia care. You can also consider hiring a registered nurse to help them around the house if it’s more convenient.
You might notice that your elderly started struggling to find the right words and communicate their thoughts. A person in the early stage of dementia will have difficulty to explain to their family something, and they will take longer to find the right words to express themselves. Conversations will be more difficult than before, and it may take a long time for you to understand them. They might also have trouble understanding you in return, and you have to be patient when talking to them and try to find another way to explain what you wanted to say in the first place.
We already mention memory and language problems, and you will also notice that the person will start repeating things: for example, they might shave more often, they might start collecting items with such dedication that it borders on obsession, and they might start asking the same questions over and over in a conversation. Memory loss combined with general behavioral changes will cause this to happen, and you should try to be more patient with dementia patients.
Another common early sign of dementia includes changes in mood, subtle at first but more prominent as the time goes on. For people who have dementia, these symptoms can go unnoticed and they might not be able to recognize them in themselves, but for people around them, it’s more noticeable. Depression is very common at first, and there can come a time when the person is experiencing apathy and profound sadness. In addition to this, a shift in personality is also noticeable, as shy people can become more outgoing. This happens because dementia often affects judgment and the person will start thinking and acting differently.
Being diagnosed with dementia can be devastating because you know that the person with the diagnosis will slowly lose their memories. On the other hand, just as there are certain irreversible causes of dementia, there are also reversible ones, and you can make an effort to improve the memory of your loved ones.