7 Early Signs & Symptoms of Dementia

Identifying the early signs of dementia can be challenging. Learn about seven common types of early signs and symptoms of dementia to better treat yourself or your loved one who is suffering from memory loss, social withdrawal or other cognitive impairments.

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You’ve probably heard it before: an older loved one worrying that forgetting their keys means they’re developing dementia. Identifying the early signs of dementia is actually a little more complicated than that. While people with dementia often exhibit similar behavior patterns there are some specific early symptoms family members should look out for with their elderly relatives. Below outlines seven common early signs and symptoms of dementia. .

What is Dementia?

Before understanding the signs of dementia, it’s important to understand what dementia is and how it impacts older adults.

The Alzheimer’s Association defines dementia as:

Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.

Dementia is a cognitive impairment of one’s mental, and sometimes physical, ability to perform their normal, daily activities. Memory loss is a common example of someone with dementia. It’s not a specific disease but a generalized description of similar symptoms among memory-loss diseases and loss is cognitive function.

Common Signs of Dementia

While symptoms may vary based on the different type of dementia, common early signs of dementia include:

  1. Difficulty performing familiar tasks

  2. Inability to problem solve

  3. Confusion about time or place

  4. Driving issues

  5. Speech impairment

  6. Personality changes

  7. Withdrawal from social activities

Once you notice a loved one experiencing two or more types of memory impairment, it is time to consult a doctor for a mental health assessment. This article can help you get educated on the different signs of memory impairment, so that you’re better prepared to take care of loved ones when the time comes.

Difficulty performing familiar tasks

We all forget small things like keys from time to time, only to remember where we put them later on. This is entirely normal.

For signs of memory impairment, take note when a loved one suddenly experiences memory loss related to tasks they perform all the time. Look for signs such as an inability to follow a familiar recipe or recite a home address. These may be signs of more serious cognitive impairment. Consult your family medical history and make an appointment with a physician to be sure.

Inability to problem solve

When we do experience momentary memory loss, our reaction to the situation can be very telling. For example, when your loved one loses keys at home, are they able to retrace their steps in order to problem solve and find them? If connecting the dots seems harder than it should be, your loved one may be showing early signs of cognitive decline.

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Confusion about time or place

Forgetting the time or date is relatively normal for people juggling a busy schedule. What’s not: forgetting where you are or how you got there. If you learn that a loved one becomes suddenly disoriented and unable to retrace the steps that got them to a certain location, they may be experiencing the first stages of dementia.

This sign of memory impairment is not to be taken lightly; wandering is one of the most dangerous side effects of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and noticing the signs early on can help loved ones stay safe before things get worse. If you’re worried about a loved one with memory impairment, it’s important to get a physician’s diagnosis so you can understand how to move forward with memory care.

Driving issues

Driving can be hazardous as we get older; our vision declines and our reflexes slow down, leading to greater risk of getting into automobile accidents. This risk only increases in those with memory impairment; Dementia symptoms may affect driving, causing loved ones to lose the ability to recognize spatial relationships. People experiencing cognitive decline may also find that they get lost in familiar areas. Furthermore, memory changes related to dementia can be scary and uncomfortable, leading to the driver being distracted and emotional while on the road. To help your loved ones stay safe, consider volunteering to be their transportation or hiring an in-home caregiver to take on the responsibility instead.

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