How to spot the early signs of dementia

Credit: Unsplash+

Dementia is a term used to describe a decline in cognitive function severe enough to interfere with daily life. While it is often associated with older age, early onset dementia can occur before the age of 65.

Recognizing the early signs is crucial for timely intervention, which can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. This article will explore these signs, supported by research, to help individuals and their families understand and identify them.

One of the first signs of early onset dementia is memory loss that disrupts daily activities. This is not just about forgetting where the keys are; it involves forgetting recently learned information, important dates or events, and increasingly needing to rely on memory aids like notes or electronic devices.

A study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry suggests that such memory loss is often one of the earliest indicators of diseases like Alzheimer’s, which is the most common form of dementia.

Another early warning sign is facing challenges in planning or solving problems. Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers.

They might struggle with following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. Their attention to detail often suffers, and they may take much longer to do things than they did before.

Changes in mood and personality also occur in people with early onset dementia. Individuals may become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, with friends, or when out of their comfort zone.

Research in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias notes that these personality changes are often precipitated by the frustration of failing to manage routine tasks.

Problems with words in speaking or writing are also common. Someone with early onset dementia may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves.

They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word, or call things by the wrong name. The Alzheimer’s Association describes how these language problems can manifest subtly but progressively impair effective communication.

A reduced ability to understand visual images and spatial relationships is another symptom that might not be obvious. For some, having vision problems is a sign of early dementia. This may lead to difficulty with balance or trouble reading.

They may also not recognize their own reflection in a mirror. According to research in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, these issues are due to dementia-related changes in the brain areas responsible for visual processing.

Lastly, withdrawal from work or social activities is a sign that often goes overlooked. A person with early onset dementia may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects, or sports.

They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite team or activity. Researchers in Gerontology suggest this withdrawal often stems from the person’s recognition of their growing difficulties and their fear of social judgment.

Recognizing these signs early is key to managing early onset dementia effectively. It allows for better planning, the use of therapeutic interventions, and a possible slowing of the progression of symptoms.

Anyone noticing these signs in themselves or a loved one should consult with a healthcare provider for a thorough assessment and to discuss the next steps in care. Understanding and support from family, friends, and professionals can make a significant difference in managing the disease.

If you care about Parkinson’s disease, please read studies that Vitamin B may slow down cognitive decline, and Mediterranean diet could help lower risk of Parkinson’s.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that blueberry supplements may prevent cognitive decline, and results showing Plant-based diets could protect cognitive health from air pollution.

Copyright © 2024 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.