People with dementia suffer a decline or sometimes even loss of various mental abilities, beyond the scope of normal aging. These abilities include memory, language, judgement and others. Dementia usually affects people over 65 years of age, although it can occasionally occur in younger people as well. There are several stages of it and it’s essential to recognize it during the earliest stage, since that way some of the symptoms can be reduced. Here are some of the early signs of dementia you should be on the watch for in your elderly relatives.
Short-term memory decline
The decline or even loss of short-term memory is one of the first signs of dementia. Most of us forget things sometimes. We forget where we left our keys or whether we locked out home when we left it, but for people with dementia, this happens more often and the problem is much less simple than just looking for a misplaced key. If your loved one can easily tell you any story from their youth, but can’t remember where they went two days ago or what they had for breakfast this morning, they’re probably dealing with short-term memory loss. It will also be hard for them to remember new faces and names, all of which are things you should be on the lookout for if you think somebody around you has dementia.
Difficulty carrying out everyday tasks
People with dementia sometimes start having difficulty performing their everyday tasks, such as paying their bills, following recipes while cooking or remembering rules of different games. What might appear as a subtle change in the beginning can progress and worsen significantly as time goes by. This is one sign of dementia which can cause a lot of problems for people who live on their own, and in that case, you should consider individualized dementia home care for them. Make sure that the staff is experienced and sympathetic, so that they provide support to both, the person suffering from dementia and the members of their family who are in any ways included in the caregiving. Also, the relaxing and uplifting setting and natural surroundings can be helpful for people with dementia, so make sure they get the best care possible.
Another common symptom of dementia are constant and sudden shifts in mood. These mood swings can even lead to depression or cause people to change their personality completely. For instance, you’ll witness somebody who has always been quiet and shy become a loud and outgoing person. The cause of this is judgement impairment which dementia sufferers encounter with and which can drive them to do things they normally wouldn’t, like forgetting about their personal hygiene, inviting complete strangers into their home or spending large amounts of money on things they don’t actually need. On the other hand, they lose interest in things they normally love, such as spending time with their grandchildren or taking care of their pet. Although this is something which is difficult to notice on yourself, you will usually have no problem noticing it on other people, so just keep your eyes open.
Being easily confused
Confusion is yet another sign of dementia and it’s usually caused by memory deterioration or changes in judgement. Those with dementia can develop verbal problems, have a hard time focusing on things such as a conversation or a film they’re watching, but they’ll also find it difficult remembering what various people look like. They may ask the same question over and over, lose complete track of their daily routine or put their wallets or other things in odd places, like the fridge. Furthermore, they will often lose sense of space and time, becoming disoriented. They’ll forget the date or what part of day it is, and they’ll get lost going to places they’ve been hundreds of times before. They’ll even have problems remembering where they are and how they got there in the first place.
In case you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms in somebody close to you, have them see a doctor to determine if this is just an isolated event, or if the problem is much bigger than that.