Dementia: Spotting the Signs

As part of The Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Action Week, we’ll be bringing you a series of blog posts relating to dementia, offering advice, tips and information for those people who are living with, or affected by dementia.

Dementia is a disease that affects the brain – and is a collection of lots of different symptoms.  

Each of us unique, and as such, dementia will affect everyone in a different way.  When it comes to dementia, symptoms can manifest slightly different, depending on the person or the type of dementia.  They can occur in different combinations and at different levels of severity.

Whilst it would be impossible for to diagnose dementia straight away, it’s important to be able to recognise the fundamental signs of dementia.   These are signs that may signal something is wrong, dementia or otherwise, so as soon as they appear or are starting to affect daily living you should take action to seek further help and advice.

Here are some of the more common signs that a loved one could be starting to experience dementia:

Memory Loss

This is quite a common symptom and one that most of us would associate with dementia.  Memory problems tend to increase as we age, but if you or a loved one find yourselves forgetting peoples names, places you’ve been or can’t remember entire conversations – to the point where it is making life very difficult – then it could be time to seek help.

Confusion/Disorientation

Again, this can be common at any age – how many times have we walked into a room and forgotten why we went in there in the first place.  With so many distractions in our lives it is easily done.  But for someone living with dementia, this is likely to be more common place, happening more and more often.  They may also confuse times of the day – not knowing whether it is morning or night and arriving somewhere not knowing how they got there.   Items might be found in strange places such as milk in the washing machine or shoes in the fridge. 

Struggling with familiar tasks

This is perhaps one of the more obvious symptoms to spot as it there are often physical things that you’ve observed.  It could be something as simple as forgetting how to make a cup of tea or emptying the rubbish bins.  They may put their clothes on in the wrong order or inside out.  Tasks that have been carried out routinely for years can all of a sudden become difficult because we simply can’t remember how to do them.

Changes in behaviour

Dementia can change someone’s personality overnight – this could be as a result of brain function being affected but it could also be down to them feeling worried or anxious as a result of changes that are happening to them.

Mood swings, irritation, depression and anxiety are common side effects in people living with dementia.  Whilst these symptoms may be attributed to something else entirely, it’s probably worth getting checked out, particularly if they are in combination with any of the above. 

There are lots of things you can do to keep your brain healthy and active, which we will explore in our next blog, but if you are worried about any of the above symptoms and think this may be the start of dementia then please do seek help from your GP or contact the Alzheimer’s Society for further advice. 

If you are caring for someone with dementia, and worried that they are struggling with everyday living tasks then please get in touch to find out more about our specialist dementia care at home.

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