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June 24, 2019 | Neurology
Dementia is a condition in which once-healthy brain cells (neurons) in the brain stop working, lose connections with other cells in the brain and die. This causes loss of cognitive functioning and behavioral abilities to such a degree that it interferes with everyday life. Although everyone loses brain cells and the ability to do certain things as they age, those with dementia will experience a far greater loss.
In the early stages of dementia, some people may have only a few symptoms. Additionally, not everyone will have the same symptoms, as dementia can damage different parts of the brain. Because of this, it is important to know and recognize all the early signs of dementia.
People often associate memory loss with dementia. Although dementia does often start by affecting short-term memory, dementia can also affect the way people think, speak, perceive things, feel and behave. Below are ten warning signs of dementia.
It is normal to forget the occasional appointment or someone’s name and remember them later. However, a person with dementia may forget things more often or not remember them at all.
Difficulty with tasks
Everyone gets distracted, but a person with dementia may forget parts of the process for a task, such as forgetting the steps involved with preparing a meal.
When going to a new place, it is common for people to get disoriented. Those with dementia may have difficulty finding their way to a familiar place, feel confused about where they are or think they are back in some time from their past.
Sometimes it is hard to find the right word, but a person with dementia may forget simple words or substitute a word that is inappropriate for the sentence, making it difficult to understand. They may also have a hard time understanding what others are saying.
Some people aren’t great with numbers, but a person with dementia may have trouble knowing what the numbers mean or what to do with them.
Many of the things we do require good judgment. Someone with dementia may have difficulty making appropriate decisions, such as what to wear in cold weather.
Poor spatial skills
Sometimes it is hard to judge distance. However, someone with dementia may have difficulty judging distance and direction in everyday situations such as driving a car.
Everyone misplaces things, such as car keys or cell phones, from time to time, but someone with dementia may misplace the purpose of something, such as forgetting what the keys are for.
Mood, personality and behavior changes
People can get sad or moody from time to time. Someone with dementia can have random, rapid mood swings; they can become confused, suspicious, withdrawn or disinhibited.
Loss of initiative
It is normal to become bored with some activities. Dementia may cause a person to lose total interest in activities they previously enjoyed or require greater prompting for them to get involved.
It is important to remember that dementia is not a normal part of the aging process. The causes of dementia can vary and can require different types of treatment. If you or a loved one are showing symptoms of dementia, visit your primary care doctor.
“Dementia-Early Signs.” Better Health Channel.
“The Early Stages of Dementia.” Alzheimer’s Society.
“Five Things You Should Know About Dementia.” Alzheimer’s Society.
“What is Dementia? Symptoms, Types, and Diagnosis.” National Institute on Aging.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.