What to Look For: Early Signs of Dementia
Since dementia usually comes on gradually, it’s easy to miss the early indicators. Plus, some types of dementia start damaging a person’s brain long before any symptoms appear. For example, preclinical Alzheimer’s is a stage that can last a decade or more without any obvious hint of disease. However, in some cases, dementia can appear to come on all of a sudden—mostly among people with certain types of FTD, vascular dementia, or CJD.
Dementia primarily affects seniors and the elderly. But it can also affect those who are still in their prime working years. Early-onset dementia is the term used when it strikes younger people. The age for early-onset dementia varies, but it’s always under age 65 and frequently falls in the range of 50 to 64. People much younger than that can also get dementia.
Since different cognitive disorders can affect different people in different ways, it’s important to be aware of a fairly wide range of possible symptoms. That way, you’ll have an easier time recognizing potential problems before they progress to a more advanced stage. In the beginning, a person may display just one or two of the following indicators.
Early Signs of Dementia Checklist
- Abnormal memory problems: Everybody has moments of forgetfulness. Pay attention if those moments become more frequent or involve forgetting information like a close friend’s name, where you live, or where objects that you use every day are. People with early-stage dementia may also forget what they’ve just done yet still remember events from many years ago. They also may repeat things they’ve already said or tasks they’ve already completed.
- Mood or behavioral changes: Many people in the early stages of dementia start behaving in odd or out-of-character ways. Their personalities begin to change as they sense that something isn’t quite right and try to cope or adapt. For instance, they might become depressed, fearful, and apathetic, losing interest in the things that used to bring them joy. They may withdraw from social opportunities and become more irritable than usual. Or they might lose some of their inhibitions and become more aggressive or outgoing.
- Communication problems: Have you ever had trouble thinking of the right word to use during a conversation? It’s happened to most of us. But during the early stages of dementia, it can happen much more frequently. And it can go beyond single words. Entire sentences can come out sounding like gibberish, as if constructed with random word choices. Plus, the meanings of words may be forgotten, making it hard to follow conversations or keep up with what’s happening in movies or TV shows.
- Bad decision-making: People with dementia can lose their sense of reason and judgment, causing them to do things they would otherwise regret. For example, they might fall for scam artists or waste huge amounts of money on things they don’t need. Or they might dress inappropriately or make bizarre plans that don’t work out due to a lack of organization.
- Trouble performing routine tasks: It’s pretty common for adults with dementia to start losing their ability to carry out some of their daily activities. For instance, they may have trouble counting money or making simple financial transactions. They might misjudge distances or forget routine safety precautions while driving. Or they may have a hard time playing their favorite games.
- Confusion or disorientation: It’s normal to be a little confused from time to time. But confusion should be a red flag when it happens regularly or in familiar surroundings. Even in the early stages of dementia, people can lose their sense of time, get lost, confuse past and current events, or mix up friends or family’s names and faces. With some types of dementia, hallucinations can also occur.
Caring for a loved one with dementia poses many challenges for families and caregivers. If your loved one is showing symptoms of Dementia, we are here for you!! Schedule a meeting with us to discuss further. Contact 832-944-8111 or email [email protected]