Spotting the Early Signs of Dementia
Dementia is a generalized brain disorder that leads to cognitive decline that has the ability to seriously interfere with a person’s life and level of functioning. It can affect a person’s memory, their ability to think clearly and make rational decisions, and therefore, drastically reduce a person’s quality of life. There are several types of dementias, many which are progressive. If you or a loved one has been experiencing some memory challenges, or some other strange occurrences that lead you to believe that it could be caused by some form of dementia, then here are some early warning signs that you will definitely want to watch out for:
Ongoing memory loss – this is one of the most common signs of dementia. Simply forgetting an appointment and then remembering it later is usually nothing to be worried about. However, it can be pretty worrisome and a definite red flag if you are starting to have greater difficulty keeping up with your keys or wallet, or if you are relying on calendars, family members and assistive devices more and more to help you with remembering important dates or appointments.
Mood & personality changes – it isn’t uncommon for people with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia to experience a total transformation in mood and personality. The person can become irritable, confused, suspicious, depressed, anxious, and even downright hostile in some cases.
Decline in judgment abilities – individuals with dementia will often begin to make poor decisions as their judgment abilities decrease. The person may make decisions that appear irresponsible to others, decisions that can increase vulnerability, making them susceptible to becoming the victim of a scam or other unfortunate event.
Challenges with conversation & writing – people with dementia may begin to have difficulty with words, either during conversations, or while writing. They may be in the middle of writing a grocery list, for instance, and then completely forget what they intended to put on the list. In some cases, a person may even completely forget that they were even writing a list. The person may also forget what they intended to say during conversations, making them more apt to avoid engaging in conversations with others.
Avoidance of activities – people with dementia often begin avoiding activities that once brought them pleasure. They may have forgotten how to perform a certain activity, or they could experience difficulty with keeping up during the sport, game or activity. The person may begin to prefer being alone as opposed to experiencing the great confusion that occurs as they struggle to remember how to perform their once favourite hobby or activity.
Date & time confusion – individuals with dementia will often experience difficulty with keeping up with dates and times. They may become very confused and not realize that a certain amount of time has passed. They may be unable to remember what day it is, what season it is, or even information like who the current president is. It isn’t unusual for dementia patients to revert back in time, believing that it is 1960, for instance.
Just because you may have been forgetting a few things lately or possibly experiencing periods of brief confusion doesn’t necessarily mean that you have some type of dementia. Unfortunately, as a person ages they are more likely to experience a noticeable decline in cognition and memory.
However, if your forgetfulness is becoming increasingly more frequent and troublesome, or you are suffering from one or more of the other symptoms of dementia mentioned above, then you may very well want to be thoroughly evaluated by a medical doctor for an accurate diagnosis. Despite the fact that most dementias, like Alzheimer’s, are progressive, depending on the specific cause, dementia can sometimes be reversed. So there is hope for improvement, even after a dementia diagnosis.