4 Early Signs of Dementia

As we age, experiencing some degree of memory loss and forgetfulness is natural. However, how do you know when something more serious is happening?

According to the Mayo Clinic, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are conditions that cause a slow reduction in thinking, memory, and reasoning abilities. Fortunately, with an early diagnosis and proper care, the progression of dementia can be successfully managed. 

Understanding dementia and its early signs is the first step toward effective management and care. Below, our team at The Monarch Senior Living shares information to help you recognize early signs of dementia.

1. Frequent Episodes of Memory Loss

Most people experience some level of forgetfulness in their daily lives. Life is hectic, and juggling numerous tasks at once can tax the brain. However, if someone you know is experiencing memory loss on a regular basis, it might be the early signs of dementia. This could include:

  • Repeating statements and questions over and over
  • Forgetting conversations, appointments, or events
  • Misplacing items, often putting them in places that don’t make sense
  • Getting lost in places they’re familiar with, such as their neighborhood

While forgetfulness is common, over time, a person living with dementia will have episodes of memory loss that impact their daily life and make it unsafe for them to live independently.

2. Behavior Changes

“People with dementia often act in ways that are very different from their “old self,”… The behavior changes you see often depend on which part of the brain is losing cells (memory.ucsf.edu).” 

It’s important to watch for significant personality changes, such as: 

  • Depression
  • Social withdrawal
  • Mood swings
  • Distrust in others.
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Delusions, such as believing something has been stolen

If someone you love is exhibiting unusual behaviors or personality traits, we recommend speaking to a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause.

3. Changes in Self-Care Habits

Another situation that could be a sign of dementia is a person displaying significant changes in their lifestyle and self-care. For instance, a person living with dementia may not properly clean their home because they don’t recognize the situation. 

In addition, dementia can impact a person’s reasoning and decision-making abilities. As a result, a person may wear clothes for the wrong type of weather or not know how to handle food burning on the stove or make decisions when driving. 

4. Difficulty Doing Familiar Tasks

We can all get distracted while completing a task; we get a phone call, or the dog is barking, so we forget to add an ingredient to dinner. However, a person living with dementia may have trouble completing tasks that have been familiar to them all their lives, such as using a television remote or following a recipe.

Forgetfulness vs. Early Signs of Dementia

People often associate memory loss with the onset of dementia. While memory loss is a common symptom, it’s not the only one. As a result, dementia can be difficult to recognize, much less diagnosed. The changes are subtle at first and often are attributed to natural aging. 

If you are unsure if someone you love is experiencing age-related forgetfulness vs. early signs of dementia, here are some situations to consider:

  • Mom missing a monthly payment versus Mom being unable to manage a budget and neglecting to pay bills to the point of collection notices.
  • Dad forgetting the day of the week versus Dad forgetting what month it is or making statements as if living in the past, such as “I’m late for work.” when he’s been retired for years.
  • Mom misplacing her glasses and finding them later versus Mom misplacing her glasses and finding them in the freezer.

Those living with dementia often do not recognize these changes, so it is up to friends and family to be proactive if they notice changes in behavior that are increasingly dementia-like. 

When it comes to cognitive impairment and forms of dementia, early detection is key. Receiving a diagnosis as soon as possible ensures your family member receives proper care and can delay the progression of their condition.

If someone you love is experiencing any of the above or similar changes and behaviors, speak to a healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause. Beyond dementia, several other health conditions can cause dementia-like symptoms, such as Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) or medication side effects.

If you’re wondering when to be concerned about memory loss, no matter what stage your loved one is experiencing, you can rest assured that they’ll receive the support that they deserve. We invite you to contact The Monarch Senior Living today to learn more about our memory care communities.

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