We all have moments when we forget something or can’t recall the name of a movie or person. But at what point does “normal” forgetfulness become a warning sign of something more sinister?
Dementia is a broad term used to describe a group of conditions that affect how well your brain works. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Roughly two-thirds of people with dementia have Alzheimer’s disease.
Symptoms of dementia vary depending on which part of the brain is affected. Common symptoms include memory loss, changes in behaviour, thinking, personality and emotions.
Dementia can affect anybody but is most common in older people. So how do you know if you are beginning to suffer from dementia? Early symptoms can be subtle and difficult to recognise.
Remember, if you have dementia-like symptoms it might not necessarily be dementia so it’s important to see your GP if you have any concerns.
Here are 10 early signs of dementia:
Memory loss is the most common symptom of dementia. However, there’s a difference between a temporary memory lapse (which happens naturally as you age) and more permanent memory loss.
If your memory loss is disrupting your daily life is could be an indication of the beginning of dementia. For example, regularly forgetting recent events, routes, people’s names or messages.
Daily tasks become challenging
Everyday tasks like driving a familiar route, making a cup of tea or having trouble remembering the rules of a favourite game can be signs of early dementia.
Planning and problem-solving become hard
If you’re having problems following a recipe, or having problems making plans and sticking to them or having trouble keeping track of your bills, you may have early dementia.
Can you find the right word or have you forgotten the word for something? You may call something by the wrong name. It may become difficult to follow conversations or you may be repeating yourself.
Having problems reading words, judging distances or telling colours apart are also signs of early dementia.
Dementia can sometimes cause you to become depressed, upset more easily, anxious or scared.
We all lose things occasionally but, usually, we can retrace our steps and find them. However, people with dementia can’t always do that or they put items in strange places like the TV remote in the freezer.
People with early dementia often start becoming less involved socially or at work. They may also feel unmotivated and stop doing things they would normally enjoy in their spare time.
People with dementia are often confused. They don’t know where they are or how they got somewhere.
Are you forgetting to shower or not eating properly? Do you choose the wrong clothing, eg, wearing tennis gear to a wedding? Are you doing something you would never normally do?
If you have any of these symptoms or concerns about yourself or someone you love, please see your health care provider. Remember, dementia is a progressive disease so symptoms may start out mildly but gradually get worse over time.