Early warning signs of dementia can be observed in the way a person behaves at home. While you may not live with the person you might be concerned about, paying attention to what they are like when you visit them can be enlightening.“People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks,” the Alzheimer’s Association pointed out. One example of how this warning sign could appear in the home is when the person needs help to use the microwave settings, when this wasn’t the case previously.
All of these examples illustrate a person finding it difficult to complete familiar tasks.
Other early indicators of dementia include:
- Memory loss
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Confusion with time and place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgement
- Withdrawing from work and social activities
- Changes in personality and mood.
An interesting study, involving more than 2,000 people, found that signs of a specific type of dementia could appear up to 18 years before a formal diagnosis.
In the research, a lower score in a cognitive test was associated with an 85 percent greater risk of future dementia.
The director of research and development at the Alzheimer’s Society, Dr Doug Brown, commented on the findings.
“Dementia often causes changes in the brain years before the symptoms become apparent,” he said.
“This study shows that there may be subtle indications of Alzheimer’s disease in thinking and memory as many as 18 years before a formal diagnosis could take place.”
He continued: “This could mean there is a long window of opportunity for treatment in which we could one day halt or slow dementia.”
While observing early symptoms of dementia in a loved one can be challenging, help is available.
In order to get a diagnosis, it is important the person affected is encouraged to go to the doctor’s for a memory test.
The charity advised: “Broach the topic gently. It may help to remind them that memory issues don’t always point towards dementia.
“Be kind and supportive during the conversation. Listen to their reasons and any fears they raise.”
It will helpful to share that you are worried about them and to state examples on what has led you to be concerned.
Once a person visits a doctor, checks for the brain disease can begin, and possibly treatment, if a diagnosis is made.
“In the early stage of Alzheimer’s, the person living with the disease should be included in all conversations regarding care,” the charity asserted.
For more information and support on dementia, visit the Alzheimer’s Society.