It’s often hard to recognise the early signs of dementia, and the condition can have been developing for some time before the sufferer’s loved ones will begin to wonder if what they’re seeing is more than it seems.
In addition, every sufferer experiences the onset of dementia differently, and these two facts together can make it difficult to recognise the condition when it rears its head.
With that in mind, there are some key early signs to watch for. Alzheimer’s Disease International identifies ten key signs of early dementia; they recommend that if your loved one experiences even one over a prolonged period, you should encourage them to check with their doctor.
The Early Signs
Memory Loss – forgetting not just a name, but who the name belongs to. (Ordinary memory loss may prevent you remembering the name of your grandson, but you would still remember he’s your grandson.)
Difficulty with Familiar Tasks – Putting clothes on in the wrong order, or failing to make tea correctly, can signal encroaching dementia.
Problems with Language – if forgetting the right word becomes common, especially if unusual words are substituted in, on a regular basis it’s time to pay careful attention.
Disorientation about Time or Place – watch out for your loved ones confusing night and day, or getting lost in familiar places.
Poor/Decreased Judgement – Dressing up heavily on a hot day or choosing few layers on a cold day can be a significant indicator.
Problems Keeping Track – The more difficulty your loved one has following a conversation, the more likely it is they’re experiencing this symptom.
Misplacing Things – This isn’t just about losing your keys! But if your loved one starts keeping things in entirely inappropriate places, that’s something to watch for.
Mood/Behaviour Changes – Increased (or significantly reduced) emotional intensity and mood swings, if they’re a change from past behaviour, can be a clear indicator.
Personality Changes – Look for behaviour and attitudes you wouldn’t have expected from your loved one, especially around instances of memory loss.
Loss of Initiative – Losing interest in hobbies and sitting in front of a television for hours on end can really flag this up.