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Early Warning Signs of Dementia

September 22nd, 2021

Experiencing signs of dementia can be extremely daunting, but understanding the signs and seeking help from medical professionals and loved ones is really important. Different types of dementia will have different effects on each individual, but there are some common signs and symptoms that we can talk about and spot amongst our loved ones. 

If you’re worried about yourself or your family member, it is important to be aware of some signs. Here are some common signs of dementia to look out for:

1. Memory Loss that Affects Daily Activities

We all get forgetful from time to time. Busy lives and conflicting plans often means we can forget appointments or misplace items like our keys or phone. However, someone suffering with memory loss from dementia can become really forgetful and it can begin to disrupt their usual daily life. It is common for people with dementia to struggle to remember information that has recently been learned. 

Memory loss that affects your usual activities is not just a natural part of aging, so if you’re experiencing it to a greater degree, then speak to someone you trust about how you’re feeling.

2. Struggling to Remember the Right Word 

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Language problems are another common sign of dementia. Someone struggling with dementia may forget simple words to begin with. As time goes on, they may start finding it difficult to string sentences together and express themselves properly. This often leads to frustration for them and for others, as they can become difficult to understand. 

If you know someone who is struggling with dementia, speaking clearly and slowly so they can comprehend what you’re saying is helpful. It is also important to carry on engaging and facilitating conversations with them so they can stay mentally stimulated. 

3. Difficulty Computing Problems and Organising Daily Life

Are you or someone you love struggling to keep up with tasks? A person with dementia may find it increasingly difficult to follow a plan, such as a recipe when cooking and baking, or directions when driving. Easy tasks and simply problem solving, like calculating bills or shopping, may also become increasingly difficult.  

4. Getting Confused About Time and Space 

It’s common for us to briefly forget what day or the week it is or forget where we are going once in a while. If we remember it later, it’s not usually a cause for concern. People living with dementia, however, can lose all judgement and perception of time and space. They may struggle to remember the day of the week and can get lost in familiar places.

5. Overall Changes in Usual Mood, Behaviour, and Personality 

Sometimes any change that is recognised by yourself or by a loved one can indicate something isn’t quite right. From our likes to our dislikes, our attitudes and our behaviours, we all change over time, but people experiencing dementia can have more sudden personality or behavioural changes. They may become quite anxious and fearful for no apparent reason. Or they can become withdrawn from an activity they once loved. 

Talking to Your Family Doctor About Memory Loss 

Making that first step isn’t easy, but it will be better to make that step now, rather than later on. If you feel like you or your loved one is experiencing memory loss as a result of dementia, it is a good idea to seek help from a medical professional, like your family doctor. Only they can make a diagnosis and then advise you on the next steps. 

Though dementia can’t be prevented, there are a range of positive treatment methods that can be used to help with the signs and symptoms. Everyone responds to treatment in different ways so your doctor can help provide a plan that is suited to you.

Remember, if you feel like you’re experiencing these symptoms or your loved one is, it is really important to speak to a medical professional as soon as you can. Even if you only notice small changes in behaviour, it is better to just get it checked out. 

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Common and Alternative Treatment Methods For People With Dementia 

A common treatment method for people with dementia is medication. An alternative method of treatment is the facilitation of play – which is something we champion at New Care. We have installed a “Magic” table or “Tovertafel” in all of our dementia communities. There is significant literature on the positive effects on dementia of play. It can be really beneficial for residents to engage in play with younger children or relatives to provide mental stimulation and release endorphins. 

People with dementia also often respond really well to reminiscing. Talking about the old times often ignites fond memories about their youth and golden years. Not only does it make everyone smile, but people suffering with dementia find comfort and familiarity in remembering such happy times.

There are Many Benefits to an Early Dementia Diagnosis   

Symptoms of dementia usually begin quite mild and gradually get more pronounced over time, sometimes they can stay the same and not worsen. Spotting the signs early and seeking help from a professional or getting support from family and friends can be really helpful. Not only will you find peace that your symptoms have a diagnosis, but you’ll also be able to accommodate the changes in your life and continue to live meaningfully. Another positive step is that once you have a diagnosis, you’ll be better equipped to get the care and support you need going forward.
We hope you have found this short post on spotting the signs of dementia helpful. If you’d like more information on the support we offer to residents suffering with dementia, take a look at our dementia care facilities.