As the global population ages, an increasing number of adults find themselves caring for elderly parents. Dementia is a general term used to describe a decline in mental abilities that is severe enough to interfere with daily life. In this blog, we will delve into 13 early signs of dementia as early detection is key in managing the progression and planning for the future.
1. Memory Loss
One of the hallmark signs is memory loss, which goes beyond occasional forgetfulness. Your parent may forget recent conversations, appointments, or repeatedly ask the same questions. For example, they might ask about a relative and then, a few minutes later, ask the same questions as if the conversation never occurred.
2. Difficulty in Planning and Solving Problems
Your parent might increasingly find it challenging to plan and solve problems. Simple arithmetic may seem daunting. For instance, they could be baffled by balancing a checkbook, something they’ve managed effortlessly for decades.
3. Trouble Completing Familiar Tasks
Tasks that were once second nature could become an uphill battle. For example, they might struggle to operate a television remote or become overwhelmed with making a cup of tea because the steps involved suddenly seem complex.
4. Confusion with Time and Place
Your parent may lose track of time, becoming disoriented even within familiar surroundings. For instance, they might get lost in their own neighborhood or be confused about why they are at a specific location.
5. Difficulty Understanding Visual Images and Spatial Relationships
Your parent may experience issues with depth perception or identifying colors and contrasts. For example, they might find it hard to discern steps, leading them to be overly cautious or trip over.
6. Problems with Words
Their ability to engage in conversations might deteriorate. For instance, they may struggle to find appropriate words or construct sentences. You may notice them calling things by the wrong name or using unusual words to describe familiar objects.
7. Misplacing Things
They might start placing items in inappropriate places. For instance, they might store the iron in the fridge or find a shoe in the kitchen cupboard. Moreover, they may accuse others of stealing, as they can’t recall placing these items themselves.
8. Decreased or Poor Judgment
Your parent may demonstrate poor decision-making. For instance, they might dress inappropriately for the weather or neglect personal hygiene. They might also make poor financial decisions, like falling for scams.
9. Withdrawal from Social Activities
A once social butterfly might now shy away from social interaction. This might be because they have difficulty keeping up with conversations or are overwhelmed by the settings. For instance, you might notice them quietly retreating to their room during family gatherings.
10. Changes in Mood and Personality
The demeanor of your parent might undergo significant changes. They may become irritable, easily upset, or unusually suspicious. For example, they might exhibit sudden bursts of anger over minor issues.
11. Difficulty Adapting to Change
Any alteration in routine might be met with resistance or confusion. For example, changing the morning routine might make them agitated or disoriented for the entire day.
12. Unexplained Repetition
They might repeat tasks, stories, or questions. For instance, they could tell you the same story several times within an hour without realizing they’ve already told it.
13. Struggling with New Information
Adapting to new technologies or absorbing new information could become increasingly difficult. For example, they may be unable to grasp how to use a new mobile phone or understand the instructions of a new medication.
If you suspect your loved one may have dementia, consider using an online self-test like the Alzheimer’s Self-Test (SAGE) as an initial step. It’s crucial to remember that this test is not definitive. Once completed, bring the test to your primary care physician for scoring and interpretation. Your doctor may suggest further assessments based on the results.
Caring for a parent with dementia can be challenging, but knowing the early signs can prepare you for the road ahead. If you recognize any of these signs in your parent, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis. Early intervention can be crucial in managing dementia and improving the quality of life for both the individual and the caregiver.
Disclaimer: The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice.
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