Dementia 101: the signs to look out for 

Are you worried that you or a loved one might be developing dementia? An early diagnosis will allow you to access the right treatments and to better plan for the future.

Developing dementia is a frightening prospect for many. It’s easy to bury your head in the sand and simply hope it doesn’t happen to you or your loved one. But the key is to be aware of the signs so you can access support from the beginning if you’re ever faced with this situation.

The Social Care Institute for Excellence states that an early dementia diagnosis helps the individual continue living independently in their own home for longer. It means having access to the right treatments, many of which are more effective when they are started early on in the progression of the neurological condition.

Understanding the warning signs

The early stages of dementia are not always obvious, and symptoms and problems might develop slowly. It makes it even more difficult that early signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia are frequently easy to dismiss as a normal sign of ageing.

Here are the signs to look out for:

  • Memory Loss

Memory problems can include difficulties remembering new information or forgetting people’s names. Forgetting the plans that you made and not knowing where you need to be at a certain time can suggest that the individual is starting to develop dementia.

  • Difficulties with simple tasks

Those everyday tasks that you did previously with no difficulty, such as making a sandwich, might take longer or you might forget what steps are required to carry out the action.

  • Struggling with language

It’s common for someone with dementia to forget what words mean or use the wrong words in a sentence. Finding the right words when you are speaking can become more difficult, which means that conversations can move more slowly and perhaps be frustrating.

Dementia 101 - the signs to look out for
  • Problems with conversations

Being repetitive in conversations, and particularly asking the same question repeatedly, is a common sign of dementia. Trying to follow conversations can become tiring, which can also lead to anxiety and mood swings.

  • Becoming confused and disoriented

Losing a sense of direction and failing to recognise the places you have previously known are common signs for people living with dementia.

  • Difficulties with numbers and time

Problems with numbers can make it difficult for somebody with dementia to handle money. Your sense of time can weaken too; many people find themselves getting confused and getting up in the night-time or getting ready for work despite having been retired for years.

dementia 101 the signs to look out for
  • Putting things down in unusual places

Finding items in places they don’t belong – a mug in the fridge or car keys in the microwave – is another key sign to look out for.

  • Mood swings

Moving from happy to sad, and back again can be part of developing dementia. A shift in personality could also happen; an introverted person becoming extroverted is often a change caused by the condition.

  • Avoiding activities

Often people living with dementia will avoid the pastimes they always enjoyed. It might become too nerve-wracking to go to church in case you don’t recognise friends, and attending a weekly card-playing night might be too difficult to navigate. For that reason, it might feel easier just to stay at home.

Dementia 101 - the signs to look out for

You don’t need to have every dementia symptom to see your GP about it, who can refer you to a specialist memory clinic. They will carry out more in-depth tests including memory and mental assessments, neurological tests, blood tests and brain imaging tests.

Introducing home care, which specialises in dementia care, will help you or your loved one get a firmer grip on the condition. Living with dementia can mean living well, and a Care Professional can facilitate those important social interactions and activities, maintain daily routines, and help with day-to-day needs like eating and getting dressed. We can also offer services specifically for Alzheimer’s care, one of the most common forms of dementia in the UK.