Memory changes as a person ages. Some people notice these changes before others can notice them. In other cases, family members and friends are the first to notice changes in memory, behaviour or abilities.
It can be difficult to determine the difference between the changes related to aging and the first signs of dementia, but the memory loss that disrupts daily life is not a typical part of aging.
That is why the Alzheimer’s Association has created a list of warning signs of dementia. Each individual can experience one or more of these signals to different degrees. There are 10 warning signs and symptoms of dementia.
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common signs, especially in the first stage of dementia. Other signs of dementia could be forgetting important dates or asking for the same information over and over. It could also affect other activities, for example, if you have lost some object and then you find it in another unusual place.
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
Another sign is the lack of concentration. You can tell if you or your family member has a hard time carrying out instructions, such as following a recipe or working with numbers such as keeping track of monthly bills, or in the same way if it takes much longer to do so than before.
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
People with dementia often have difficulty to perform usual tasks such as disorientation when returning home, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favourite game.
4. Confusion with time or place
The disorientation of time and place are some of the first signs of dementia, the most common is to lose track of dates, seasons or you can also forget where you are or how you got to that place.
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
There are visual problems, such as difficulty reading, determining colours or driving lanes are not respected.
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
There may be times when you or your loved one cannot find the right words to speak or forget the spelling of some words. You can notice this symptom when suddenly some words are exchanged for others or when you cannot finish the sentences.
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
A person with dementia may put things in unusual places or lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.
8. Decreased or poor judgment
Changes in judgment or decision-making can be presented. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money or they may not be able to determine the dangerousness of an action.
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
When a person begins to experience cognitive challenges of dementia, he or she may begin to withdraw from work or social activities. Part of this withdrawal can be attributed to personality changes, fear or denial. The person can also stop worrying about their appearance, stop bathing and want to wear the same clothes every day.
10. Changes in mood and personality
You can notice some changes in personality such as depression, anger without an apparent reason, concern, and anxiety. Other behaviours may be that the person imagines things that are not there, hides things or believes that other people hide things from him/her, misinterprets what he/she sees or hears.
It is very important that you immediately consult a health care provider if you notice any of these early signs and symptoms of dementia.
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