As most dementia cases are a result of Alzheimer’s Disease, a neurological disorder which causes parts of the brain to shrink, a number of symptoms will often be present – and it is essential to be aware of these early indicators.
In this article, Stewart McGinn, managing director at Baycroft Care Homes identifies the signs to look out for in your loved ones and the next steps to take to provide them with the correct help that they need.
Continuously misplacing things
Anyone can forget where they put their keys on the odd occasion, but if your loved one finds they are regularly misplacing items, it could be an early sign of dementia.
For example, this could be continuously losing their glasses or finding items in strange places, like a TV remote in the fridge or food items in with the cleaning products.
Those suffering from early dementia can often struggle to concentrate or focus on tasks that require organisation and planning.
That is because Alzheimer’s disease, which causes dementia, affects the hippocampus, which controls new learning and memories. With this being disrupted, it can be much harder to concentrate.
Problems with language
A sign that can indicate a person is suffering from dementia is having difficulty forming sentences or finding the right words during conversations.
Whilst everyone can forget the odd word from time to time, regularly struggling to remember words or substituting them in sentences with random words can indicate someone is suffering.
One of the most noticeable and alarming signs that your loved one could be showing early signs of dementia is recurring memory loss.
In particular, less significant pieces of information – that are also perhaps harder to spot – could be early warning signs that your loved one may have dementia.
For example, re-reading the newspaper, re-telling stories, or forgetting an acquaintance’s name.
If you do start to notice any patterns, whether your loved one is frequently forgetting the names of people they know or is unable to recall recent events or new information learned, it is best to get them checked out by a doctor.
Changes in mood
Frequent mood swings can be another indication that your loved one has early signs of dementia as they begin to get frustrated with themselves, sometimes without obvious cause or reason.
This can be a person’s mood quickly changing from calm to angry or emotional without reason or if they generally become more withdrawn or anxious.
Finding it hard to carry out regular daily tasks
If you have noticed that your family member has recently started finding it hard to carry out regular daily tasks, like forgetting how to cook their favourite recipe that they have made countless times or struggling to count their money in a supermarket – these could all be signs of dementia.
Confusion surrounding time and place
Another distressing sign of dementia can be confusion around time and place.
Whilst many people can wander into a room and forget what they went in for, this is on a much more advanced level.
For example, your elderly family member might become lost on a street they have walked down their whole life and struggle to find their way home.
Differently, your loved one might get confused about time, being unable to distinguish between their past and present.
This could include confusing family members with people from their past, like their own parents, and struggling to remember people from their present, like their grandchildren.
Part two of this article will look at how to help someone displaying signs of dementia, a GP diagnosis, referral to a specialist, coming to terms with the diagnosis, deciding the level of care and choosing the right care home.