Dementia can strike when you least expect it in yourself or with your loved ones, it is important to know the early warning signs of dementia as well as the symptoms of dementia that you don’t want to ignore.
Signs and Symptoms of Dementia
Dementia affects your memory, thinking, and social abilities. It makes day to day more difficult not only for the person struggling with dementia but also the family and loved ones of the individual.
There are many signs and symptoms of dementia to look for if you think you or a loved one is suffering with dementia.
Symptoms of Dementia
There are many symptoms of dementia that you can watch or observe if you think someone might have dementia. These symptoms can vary person to person depending on the type of dementia they have as well as what stage of dementia they are in. These symptoms include:
#1. Cognitive Changes of Dementia
- Memory changes noticeable by others
- Struggles to communicate of find the right word they are trying to say
- Gets lost while driving more frequently in places they used and decline related with visual and spatial abilities
- Struggles with reasoning
- Struggles with problem solving
- Complex tasks become more difficult
- Struggles to plan and organize
- Changes in coordination and motor skills
- Becomes easily confused
#2. Psychological Changes of Dementia
- Changes in personality
- More depressed
- More anxious / anxiety
- Has inappropriate behaviors
- Hallucinations- can be present with certain types of dementia
10 Warning Signs of Dementia You Should Never Ignore
- Memory loss
Memory loss is one of the most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s dementia. People that are struggling with dementia struggle to remember things, especially things that they have just learned. One may experience difficulty remembering dates, events (such as doctor appointments or birthdays), and ability to learn new information.
Oftentimes in early stages of dementia individuals can remember things that happened a year ago or even five years ago, but can’t remember what they ate for dinner that night.
When it comes to memory loss, it does not just affect recalling dates and important events it can even include forgetting where they put items in their home or what they are supposed to do each day.
Individuals with dementia frequently rely on friends, family, and caretakers to help them remember important things that are happening in their lives. They even use sticky notes to help them remember events, dates, or where they put things.
- Difficulty performing tasks they have always done
Someone who is struggling with dementia might find themselves struggling with tasks they have always done such as cooking a meal that they have made for years, playing a game, operating the TV, or even paying their bills. This gets more and more difficult as their dementia gets more severe over the years.
- Language problems
Finding the right word to say can be a struggle for us all, but when an individual struggles with dementia this becomes more evident. They may forget words, say inappropriate words, or create sentences that don’t make sense to others.
When someone struggles with dementia you may even see an individual actively involved in a conversation and then suddenly stop midsentence because they can’t remember the right word or phrase to say.
- Getting lost
People with dementia struggle with visual and spatial abilities. These problems can create issues such as getting lost while driving, getting lost on a walk around the neighborhood or even in the store that they have been in for years.
- Confusion with time
Dementia patients can struggle with the concept of time. They may forget what day of the week it is or how long it takes to get someplace they have gone regularly.
- Impaired judgement
People with dementia struggle with having good judgement. This includes making appropriate decisions. These can be simple judgement calls like wearing a heavy coat when it is 100 degrees outside or bigger concerns like not recognizing right away that they need to see a doctor for a life threatening illness.
They also lack judgement when it comes to easily spotting scams and difficulties with money management.
- Changes in mood and behavior
Everyone has a bad day, but individuals with dementia usually suffer from rapid mood swings. One minute they can be happy interacting with others and the next minute they are confused and suspicious of others behaviors and motives. These can happen rapidly leaving friends and family confused by their sudden shift in behavior.
- Personality behavior
Along with changes in mood and behavior, individuals who have symptoms of dementia suffer from personality changes. This is extremely difficult to see especially in loved ones. They can go from being happy and outgoing to withdrawn and confused often.
- Repeating themselves
Another sign of dementia to look for is repeating yourself. This could include the repetition of daily tasks such as eating breakfast, brushing your teeth, or shaving.
It can even go as far as repeating the same conversation over and over again because they can’t remember what they already told you. They may even ask the same question over and over again because they can’t remember your answer to the question.
Confusion is a sign of dementia that gets worse over time. It starts with little things. This can include not remembering what you had for breakfast or where you put items such as your keys, and as dementia progresses so does the level of confusion.
The confusion will eventually get worse over time, including not remembering what day it is, or even recognizing familiar faces of our loved ones. This can be heart-breaking and frustrating for both the person living with dementia and the caregiver.
When to see a Doctor?
If you or a loved one is suffering from these warning signs and symptoms of dementia , consult with your doctor. Identifying the underlying cause of the symptoms is key! There are many symptoms that mimic the symptoms of dementia, so it’s important to rule out anything else that may be contributing to symptom onset. If it is dementia, identifying what’s happening in a timely manner can help all members involved better cope with and devise a treatment plan that is right for the person living with dementia. Getting the proper family / caregiver dementia education and training early can be a tremendous help for everyone involved.