- Signs of dementia can include memory loss, confusion, difficulty communicating, and changes in mood or behavior.
- If you notice any of these signs in yourself or a loved one, it’s important to see a doctor for an evaluation.
As we age, it’s normal to become a little forgetful. We misplace our keys or glasses more often and sometimes have trouble remembering names or dates. However, there’s a difference between normal age-related forgetfulness and memory loss associated with dementia.
Dementia is a broad term used to describe a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. While it is most commonly associated with old age, dementia can affect adults of any age. Early onset dementia affects people under the age of 65 and is, therefore, sometimes referred to as young onset dementia.
In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association reports that 1 in 3 seniors will die from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
Dementia is not a specific disease but rather an overall term that describes symptoms that can be caused by a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, frontotemporal lobe degeneration, and Lewy body disease.
There is no one-size-fits-all test for dementia, but there are certain warning signs and symptoms that may indicate that someone is developing the condition.
If you notice any of the following changes in yourself or a loved one, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible for an accurate diagnosis.
Early Warning Signs of Dementia
1. Memory Loss That Affects Daily Life
One of the most common early signs of dementia is forgetting recently learned information or important events. We all have occasional lapses in memory, but if you find yourself frequently forgetting things like people’s names or recent conversations, it could be a sign of something more serious.
2. Difficulty Planning or Solving Problems
If you find yourself struggling to follow instructions or complete familiar tasks, it could be an early symptom of dementia. This includes things like driving to a familiar location, keeping track of monthly bills, and remembering the rules of your favorite game.
3. Confusion With Time or Place
Do you ever walk into a room and can’t remember why you went there? Do you get lost on your way home from running errands? If you experience disorientation and confusion about time or place on a regular basis, it could be an early warning sign of dementia.
4. Trouble Understanding Visual Images and Spatial Relationships
Vision problems are not always one of the first signs of dementia, but they are something to keep an eye out for nonetheless. If you have trouble reading, judging distances, or recognizing faces, it could be an indication that something more serious is going on.
5. Difficulty with speech and language
Another typically obvious early symptom of dementia is difficulty communicating. This can manifest as trouble finding the right words, repeating yourself frequently, or mixing up words when speaking. You may also have trouble understanding what others are saying to you. If you notice this happening, it’s important to see a doctor right away.
6. Misplacing Things in Unusual Places
One of the early warning signs of dementia is finding things in unusual places. If you frequently misplace your wallet or keys or can’t remember where you left your phone, this may be cause for concern. People with dementia may also put things in odd places, for example, putting their watch in the refrigerator or their car keys in the trash can.
7. Changes in Mood and Behavior
Dementia can also cause changes in mood and behavior. Your loved one may become agitated or angry more easily than before. They may also experience depression, anxiety, or other changes in their mood.
Harvard Health explains that 90% of people living with dementia may suffer from anxiety, agitation, and depression. Additionally, you may notice changes in their sleep patterns or appetite. These changes can be early warning signs that something is wrong, so be sure to mention them to your doctor.
Dementia is not something to ignore. If you believe that you or someone close to you is exhibiting any of the seven early warning signs listed above, don’t hesitate to talk to a doctor right away. The earlier dementia is caught, the better chance there is of slowing its progression and preserving cognitive function.
FAQs about dementia
There is no sure way to prevent dementia, but there are things you can do to lower your risk. These include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, not smoking, and keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol under control.
There is no one test that can diagnose dementia. A diagnosis is made after a comprehensive evaluation that includes a review of symptoms, a physical exam, laboratory tests, and neuroimaging studies. A cognitive assessment may also be conducted to assess thinking and memory skills.
There is no cure for dementia, but there are treatments available that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Treatment options include medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.
Also Read: 35 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease