Warning signs of dementia

Dementia is the umbrella term for the variety of conditions that can cause the brain to fail. One of those is Alzheimer’s disease which represents the majority of cases. We all experience normal, age related changes as we get older, however, dementia is marked by a gradual impoverishment of thought and other mental activities that eventually affect almost every aspect of life.

With Dementia Awareness Week taking place between 15th-21st May, we are raising awareness of dementia by sharing some warning signs to look out for.

Memory Loss that disrupts daily life- One of the most common signs of dementia is memory loss, especially if you notice your loved one forgetting very recent events. People with dementia often forget the current time and get lost in a familiar environment. They might lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time.

Changes in mood or personality- A person with dementia may seem different from his/her usual self in ways that are difficult to identify or explain. They may become suspicious, irritable, depressed, apathetic, anxious, or confused, especially in situations where memory problems are causing difficulties.

Difficulty Finding the Right Words- Another early sign of dementia is struggling to communicate thoughts the way you want to. This may mean that a person can’t seem to explain things. They may reach for the right words, but just can’t seem to grasp them. Conversations with an elderly parent who has dementia can become difficult and take longer than usual to conclude.

Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps- We all misplace things from time to time, however, someone with dementia will place things in random or unusual places, and may even accuse others of stealing the misplaced items. The may lose the ability to objectively look for the misplaced items.

A Failing Sense of Direction- Sense of direction and spatial orientation is a common function of thinking that starts to deteriorate with the onset of dementia. This can mean not recognizing once-familiar landmarks and forgetting regularly used directions. It also becomes more difficult to follow series of directions and step-by-step instructions.

Difficulty in completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure- People with dementia often find it hard to complete every day, familiar tasks. Carrying out activities in the proper sequence might be challenging, such as forgetting the correct order to put on their clothes.

Struggling to Adapt to Change- For someone in the early stages of dementia, the experience is frightening. Suddenly they can’t remember people they know or follow what others are saying. They can’t remember why they went to the store and get lost on the way home. Because of this, they might crave routine and not want to try new things. Having difficulty adapting to changes is a typical sign of early dementia.

Not all of these warning signs may be applicable in every case, but if you feel that your loved one may be experiencing one or more of these warning signs, or should you have any doubt, then it is best to seek professional advice, and the best place to start is with your GP.

I welcome any suggestions for future topics from you all. All you have to do is write to me at [email protected] or by post to Beacontree Court, Gillette Way, Reading, RG2 0BS

Philip Keohane