Identifying early signs of dementia

Identifying early signs of dementia

KN Updated
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In this article Dementia Waikato have shared information about how to identify early signs of dementia, the importance of an early and correct diagnosis of dementia and where to get help.


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What are common early signs of Dementia?

Dementia symptoms can vary from person to person and can be very subtle so not obvious to family and friends at first. Symptoms can go unnoticed or be put down to normal ageing as they develop over time.

Early symptoms can include –

  • Memory problems, particularly remembering recent events
  • Increasing confusion
  • Reduced concentration
  • Personality or behaviour changes
  • Apathy and withdrawal or depression
  • Loss of ability to do everyday tasks.

Possible dementia warning signs

If there are several of the warning signs listed below, then it would be advisable to consult a doctor for a thorough assessment.

  • Memory loss that affects day-to-day function – it’s ok to forget things like appointments! A person with dementia may forget things more often or not remember them at all.
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks – for example, having trouble with all the steps involved in preparing a meal.
  • Disorientation to time and place - difficulty finding their way to a familiar place, or feel confused about where they are, or think they are back in some past time of their life.
  • Problems with language - forgetting simple words or substituting inappropriate words, making them difficult to understand. They might also have trouble understanding others.
  • Problems with abstract thinking - abstract thinking is about concepts and ideas. Managing finances can be difficult for anyone, but a person with dementia may have trouble knowing what the numbers mean or what to do with them.
  • Poor or decreased judgement - good judgement is the ability to make the right decision considering the circumstances. When this ability is affected by dementia, the person may have difficulty making appropriate decisions, such as what to wear in cold weather.
  • Problems with spatial skills - difficulty judging distance or direction, which is risky when driving a car, and may cause falls when walking.
  • Problems misplacing things - may often put things in inappropriate “safe” places and sometimes accuses others of stealing or hiding them.
  • Changes in mood, personality or behaviour - can exhibit rapid mood swings for no apparent reason. They can become confused, suspicious or withdrawn. Some can become disinhibited or more outgoing.
  • A loss of initiative - It’s normal to tire of some activities. However, dementia may cause a person to lose interest in previously enjoyed activities.

Make sure you consult a Doctor

It may not be dementia, just because someone has some of the symptoms above, there could be many other reasons for them to be present. Talk to a GP early on, as only a medical practitioner can diagnose dementia. This is only a general summary of symptoms, we suggest that you seek professional help and advice should you be concerned for a friend or family member. 

More information about Dementia Waikato

Dementia Waikato is a charitable trust providing free services to support individuals with a dementia diagnosis, their families and care partners.
 
To contact the Coromandel Peninsula Dementia Advisor and for more information about Dementia Waikato see the related link below. 

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Related Links

Dementia Waikato

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