What are the early signs of dementia?
Dementia Care

The NHS estimates that around 850,000 people in our country have dementia, and the people most at risk are those 65 years and older. This debilitating and often devastating condition can leave family members at a loss for what to do, even though dementia often develops slowly over time.

That’s why it’s so important to be able to spot the early signs and symptoms of dementia to enable you to see a possible diagnosis and treatment as earlier as possible.

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Dementia Care

1. Personality or behaviour changes

Is your loved one not the same person they were a few months ago? Do their moods change rapidly from one moment to the next? Are they displaying fewer emotions than they used to?

Everyone can have changes in moods every now and then. But when someone’s behaviour or personality changes happen more and more often, especially in the elderly, this could be an early sign of dementia.

Another sign of mood changes could come from increased irritability or someone becoming suspicious, even if your elderly relative trusts you completely and has no reason to suspect you of anything.

Mood changes could happen because of diet or a change in someone’s life circumstances. But if everything else has stayed the same, mood changes may signal something else happening in your loved one’s mind. A qualified medical professional can help diagnose what’s going on.

Increased confusion with Dementia

2. Increasing confusion

Your elderly loved one may display confusion about ordinary things, like if it is day or night, what day it is, what show is on, or who certain relatives are. You may see your loved one calling someone by another person’s name.

Increasing confusion can come from a lack of sleep, a change in nutrition, other illness, or a recent medical problem that a doctor has diagnosed.
However, it is vital to have your elderly loved one checked for dementia if their confusion worsens or there are no other reasonable explanations.

3. Reduced concentration

You love playing games with your mum or dad, such as cards, word games, or doing jigsaw puzzles. However, if your parent is having trouble following a casual conversation about mundane topics, like the weather, family events, or what happened earlier in the day, then this may be an early sign of Dementia.

Much like other symptoms of dementia, reduced concentration might come from a lack of sleep, worrying, dietary changes, or another medical issue. That’s why it’s important to monitor any changes and seek appropriate medical assistance if you become increasingly concerned.

4. Apathy and withdrawal or depression

Your mum loves her garden. She cared for her plants for decades and gave them the utmost attention. Your dad loves football and has enjoyed cheering for his favourite team his entire life, following his favourite players and wearing the shirt on match days.

But has either of your parents suddenly stopped taking an interest in their favourite things? Do they no longer want to spend as much time with you as they used to? Do they seem not to care as much anymore?

Apathy and withdrawal can be somewhat moderate but can be a warning sign of something more serious: depression. Depression can have serious health consequences, like a loss of appetite, heart difficulties, and premature death.

If your elderly loved one has stopped enjoying life or isn’t having as much fun as they used to, it might be worth getting them checked by their GP.

Care and Support for Dementia

5. Loss of ability to do everyday tasks

Everyday tasks like cooking, walking the dog, feeding the cat, or even daily grooming may seem to get more and more challenging for an elderly loved one.
Someone with a recent medical setback might need extra help. But if there wasn’t a recent hospitalisation or injury, someone who loses the ability to perform everyday tasks could have something going on inside their brain.

6. Memory problems, particularly remembering recent events

Memory problems are the starkest early signs of dementia. If your elderly loved one can’t remember recent events, like a visit from a neighbour, a phone call from a grandchild, or the score of the football match they just attended, it might be worth considering having your relative tested for dementia.

An appropriate medical professional can administer the Six Item Cognitive Impairment Test. This exam includes a series of six questions used to score memory difficulties, including asking your loved one the current time and date, to count backwards from 20, and to remember a name and address.

A low score of zero to 7 out of a possible 28 indicates no evidence of memory problems. A score of eight to nine may highlight signs of memory difficulties. A score of 10 or higher means further investigation is warranted.

An expert medical professional may refer your loved one to a specialist to discuss the situation and a diagnosis as well as a treatment plan.

Caring for someone with Dementia

No one should go through dementia care alone.

Even family caregivers need respite every once in a while, especially if caring for an elderly mum or dad is a full-time job.

Whether your loved one is living with Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia or the effects of memory loss in general, our carers can provide care and support in familiar surroundings as much or as little as you need.

Find out more about how we can support you or your loved one with Dementia care or give our friendly care team a call on 0808 278 1112 who would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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