Forgetfulness or Memory Loss? – The Most Common Warning Signs For Dementia

There are many different types of Dementia and they can affect different people in different ways. 
 
Alzheimer’s disease is by far the most common form of Dementia but there are broad similarities between them all. It is, however, easy to confuse some of the struggles we will all occasionally face with getting older with the early signs of dementia. It’s sensible, therefore, to be aware of some of the most common warning signs of dementia:
 
Memory loss
 
We can all sometimes forget people’s names but we will still know who the person is and facts associated with them. However, a person with dementia may not only forget the person’s name but also the context in which they know them. The short term memory is particularly disrupted with recently learned information being lost, Individuals may forget important dates or events, repeat 
questions and start to rely heavily on memory aids or others for things they used to handle on their own.
 
Challenges in doing daily tasks.
 
Just because we may struggle with using the remote control for the TV doesn’t necessarily mean we are displaying signs of dementia. However, people with dementia may have real difficulty achieving what have in the past been very basic tasks. For example they may not know in what order to put clothes on or steps to follow in a recipe.
 
Problems planning or solving problems
 
Making occasional mistakes whilst paying your bills may be one thing but dementia will often make it much more difficult for an individual to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers.
 
Trouble with spatial perception
 
Many peoples eyesight suffers as they get older but one sign of dementia is difficulty reading, judging distances and recognizing colours or contrast - all of which affects one’s ability to drive.
 
Word problems – written or spoken. 
Now and again everyone is lost for the word they need but a person with dementia may forget simple words or call things by the wrong name. They may also stop mid conversation, be unable to continue or repeat themselves.
 
Confusion with time and place
It’s fairly easy when you are not following a Monday to Friday work routine to forget the day of the week or even where we are going. A person with dementia however can become lost on the road they live on and may sometimes forget where they are or how they got there and be unable to get home.
 
Poor Judgement
Bad decisions is something we all make and have to live with but dementia can cause decreased or poor judgement or decision making. For example: deciding to wear only a few clothes on a cold day but wear several layers on a hot one. They may also pay less attention to personal grooming and hygiene.
 
Misplacing things
How often have we lost our keys only to retrace our steps to locate them? This can become increasingly difficult with the progression of the dementia and things may be put in unusual places: for example the kettle in the fridge. Sometimes others may be accused of stealing.
 
Withdrawal from work or social obligations
 
Who hasn’t got fed up with work, household chores and even some social activities? However, dementia can result in a lack of confidence leading to social isolation by a person removing themselves from hobbies, sports or social events. They often become very passive, appearing to lose enthusiasm for things that previously they enjoyed, sleeping more than usual or just sitting in front 
of the TV for long periods of time.
 
Changes in mood, personality or behaviour
Variation in our mood is completely normal and many of us develop very specific ways of doing things and can get irritated when our routine is disrupted. However, dementia can make a person unusually emotional often for no apparent reason. They can become confused, suspicious, irritable, apathetic, depressed anxious and agitated.
 
Early symptoms of dementia are often mild and may get worse only very gradually. This means that the person with dementia and those around them may not notice these signs or take them seriously for some time. Also, people with dementia sometimes do not recognise that they have any symptoms. So if you recognise these problems are affecting your daily life or that of a friend or loved one you should talk to your doctor, or encourage them to talk to theirs so that you can benefit from the treatments available.

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