What are the early signs of dementia?

What are the early signs of dementia?

What are the early signs of dementia?

Whether you or a loved one are showing signs of memory and cognitive issues, it is important not to immediately determine the diagnosis to be that of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. In order to receive a diagnosis of dementia, the person concerned will need to have at least two different types of mental impairments that are significantly impacting their everyday activities and life. 

In addition to memory issues, the patient may also experience issues in:

  • Communication
  • Language
  • Reasoning
  • Focus

The below symptoms can be considered the initial symptoms of dementia:

  1. Subtle memory changes that are short-term

Issues with memory are considered to be the hallmark symptom of dementia. These changes in one’s memory are often subtle initially and tend to only involve short-term memory issues.

An example of a short-term memory issue is forgetting where one places everyday items such as keys, a wallet or other belongings.  Someone who is affected may be able to recall events and memories that happened a number of years ago, but not be able to remember what they had for lunch.

It is important to note that forgetting things like where you put your keys every now and again is not cause for concern and people of all ages may become forgetful during times of stress, anxiety or even simply when they are busier than usual in their daily lives. It is when forgetfulness becomes chronic or unusual, affecting one’s daily life on a longer-term basis, that it may be cause for concern.

Reminder for people with memory loss

  1. Difficulty in finding the right words in conversation

Struggling to communicate feelings and thoughts is another early symptom of dementia. If someone has dementia they often find it difficult to explain something or find the right words in order to express what they are trying to say. When communicating with someone who has dementia, the conversation may take longer than an average one or take longer to conclude and understand. 

  1. Changes in mood or personality

Noticeable changes in someone’s mood on a regular basis is also common in dementia. If you are the one suffering from dementia, these mood changes may be difficult to notice at first, however friends and loved ones will often recognise these changes before you do. Depression is known to be a typical sign of early dementia.

A shift in one’s personality is also another early sign of dementia, along with mood changes. A change in one’s personality may be shifting from being someone who is shy to someone who is outgoing or vice versa. This is due to the condition being one that often impacts one’s judgment 

  1. Apathy

Apathy is defined as the suppression or absence of emotion, passion or excitement. A lack of interest in things that were previously met with enthusiasm and excitement is a common sign of early dementia. Someone with dementia may not want to go out in public or partake in any fun activities. Apathy is also tied to depression as the patient may appear to be emotionally flat and not want to spend time with family or friends.

  1. Difficulty in completing everyday tasks

Often in early dementia, the person may experience a subtle shift in their ability to finish everyday tasks. This will typically start with a struggle when completing more complex tasks such as balancing a chequebook, doing taxes or playing a game with complex rules.

Apart from finding it hard to complete tasks that are normally seen as easy or familiar, the person may also strain themselves when learning something new or when trying to follow a new routine. 

  1. Confusion

Confusion is a typical sign of the onset of early dementia. When memory, judgement or thinking begins to lapse, the person may be confused as they can no longer recognise or recall faces, find the words to express themselves or interact normally.

There are a number of reasons that confusion occurs in different situations. Misplacing car keys, forgetting what they had to do in the day or difficulty in remembering someone they have previously met, are some examples of everyday confusion associated with dementia.

  1. Difficulty when following conversation or storylines

This is a classic sign of early dementia. Forgetting the meaning of words or following a storyline of a movie on TV or a conversation are something people with dementia tend to battle with.

  1. Difficulty in spatial orientation

Someone with early dementia will start to show signs of a deteriorating sense of direction as their spatial orientation will begin to deteriorate as dementia progresses. This can also mean not being able to recognise landmarks that were once-familiar or losing their sense of direction when driving or walking to destinations they once found with ease. It can also become hard for them to follow step by step instructions such as those of a recipe.

  1. Acting in repetitive ways

Repetition is a common sign of dementia as it is associated with general behavioural changes and memory loss. Daily tasks are often repeated, for example, the person may shave twice or even obsessively collect items. They may even repeat questions they have asked that have already been answered.

  1. Finding it hard to adapt to any changes

Fear is a common symptom in the early onset of dementia. In not being able to remember people or follow conversations, or getting lost on their way home from the store sufferers may experience symptoms of fear and confusion. Because of this, it may result in a craving for routine and being afraid to try new things.

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