Experts use the term dementia to describe a deterioration in mental skills required to perform daily activities. Symptoms of dementia include memory loss, behavioral changes, and disorientation. Alzheimer’s disease is by far the most common form of dementia, with more than 5 million Americans living with the condition.
There is no cure for dementia, nor absolute treatments to slow its progress. However, there are ways to manage its various symptoms.
Like many conditions, early detection can help individuals with dementia improve their overall quality of life. Here, then, are six warning signs that often signal dementia's onset.
Perhaps the symptom most commonly associated with dementia, memory loss can affect numerous activities—from performing everyday tasks to holding conversations. Forgetting to take medication, asking the same questions over and over, and ignoring appointments or important events could all be memory loss indications.
Sudden increased use of sticky notes or other reminder aids could signal that someone is experiencing memory issues.
Difficulty Performing Daily Tasks
Older adults who struggle with daily activities, especially those involving multiple steps, could be displaying dementia symptoms. Tasks with compound steps, such as cooking or paying bills, could prove challenging for people with dementia. Memory loss and an inability to concentrate contribute to problems with performing everyday jobs.
Getting confused with time and place is another common symptom of dementia. Forgetting dates, losing a sense of how much time has passed, or not knowing where they are and how they got there, are all possible red flags.
Disorientation can often lead to safety concerns. Older adults that become confused and unaware of their surroundings can easily put themselves and others in danger.
People with dementia often struggle with following, participating in, and recalling conversations. Dementia can cause people to repeat themselves frequently. Re-asking questions, retelling the same story, and mixing up words are common communication issues attributed to dementia.
Everyone misplaces items from time to time. However, when it begins to happen frequently, losing things could be a symptom of dementia. Those already struggling with remembering would have trouble retracing their steps and, thus, have increased difficulty finding misplaced items.
Personality or Behavior Changes
Confusion, depression, suspicion, and anxiety are common symptoms seen in individuals with dementia. Behavioral changes can occur at home and in social settings. Symptoms include declining interest in favorite hobbies and avoiding friends and family.
Personality and mood changes often occur with other symptoms. For instance, someone unable to find a lost piece of jewelry might express anxiousness and paranoia and accuse someone of stealing the item.
Routine activities can become a struggle for those dealing with dementia. Cooking dinner, driving, and taking medication can become challenging tasks. Sudden differences in a person’s memory, personality, and awareness could be early indicators of dementia. If you or a loved one begin demonstrating any signs of dementia, schedule an appointment with your physician right away.