Dementia is a very serious condition that can completely impair the communication and memory of the sufferer. However, early signs are often quite subtle and hard to catch in time unless you know exactly what to pay attention to. So, here’s a little guide that teach you more about the 10 early signs of dementia…
Short-Term Memory Problems
As expected, one of the earliest symptoms of dementia is memory issues. These changes are usually very subtle in the beginning and most commonly involve short-term memory. For instance, a person with early dementia might clearly remember events from years ago, but not things that happened that morning. They also might forget where they left something, why they got up, why they entered a room or what they have to do that day.
Another common symptom of early dementia is mood swings. People with early dementia will very rarely notice this in themselves, but it can be possible to notice this symptom in other people. For instance, depression is very common in early dementia. Together with mood changes, some personality shifts can also be noticeable. For instance, some dementia sufferers might go from being quite shy to becoming very extroverted and vice versa.
Sure, everyone struggles with finding the right words sometimes, but people with early dementia might start to forget even the simple, everyday words. They might find it very hard to explain situations, tell stories or express their emotions. Substituting normal words for slightly inappropriate ones is also quite common. Conversing with dementia sufferers can be a bit difficult and it might take people longer to create conclusions and maintain a good conversation. This struggle to communicate is one of the most frustrating things about dementia, so patience and understanding are crucial.
Early dementia also causes the feeling of apathy in sufferers. The affected person often stops engaging in hobbies or activities they once found very pleasurable and important. They might start to avoid hanging out with family and friends, seem a bit distant and unemotional and might even start to avoid going out when possible.
Difficulty With Everyday Tasks
Most everyday tasks we perform are so well-practiced that we don’t even have to think about them anymore. However, as dementia progresses, it can cause a subtle change in the ability to perform these very familiar tasks. It usually starts with more demanding tasks like dealing with taxes or playing complicated games, but in time, it can also affect normal, everyday tasks.
Problems With Direction
Many people with early dementia start to experience deterioration in spatial orientation and their sense of direction. Landmarks that they’ve passed thousands of times might not ring a bell anymore and they might have trouble with once-familiar directions. This not only causes people to get lost and confused, but can also cause serious safety problems. That’s why many dementia sufferers might feel the safest when living in one of the specialized dementia care facilities that provide around the clock care. These communities offer their users plenty of freedom, socializing and activities combined with all the care and help they need.
Inability To Follow Stories
Another common early sign of dementia is difficulty with following more complicated stories and storylines. Just like with conversations where it’s hard to find the right words, storylines can also get confusing and difficult to follow. For instance, dementia sufferer can forget the meaning of certain words which can make understanding and following TV programs and radio quite difficult.
Another problem that memory loss (especially short-term memory loss) and behavioral changes bring is repetition. The repetition of daily tasks is often the most obvious. The person with early dementia might repeat shaving, washing dishes, moving objects around or even obsessively collect certain items. Another quite obvious thing is repetition in conversation. They might repeat the same questions, go over the same subjects or repeat parts of the story.
Inability To Adapt To New Things
One of the biggest signs of a healthy mind is the ability to adapt to new situations and learn new things. However, someone with dementia symptoms might find these new situations not only unpleasant, but very stressful and scary. The stress of the new situation can cause people with onset dementia to feel very confused and upset. That’s why dementia sufferers crave routine and might avoid unfamiliar people, situations and experiences.
Almost every activity we perform throughout the day requires several decision-making situations. However, people with dementia might have impaired judgment and problems with making poor decisions. For instance, they might give a large amount of money to telemarketers, make uncalculated purchases in stores or let strangers into their homes. In some cases, they might even find it hard to decide what to wear in winter or make inappropriate comments.
Now that you know the most common early signs of dementia, you can potentially make someone’s life much easier. But, remember, only a doctor can properly diagnose dementia and set the course of treatment!