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The NSPA Blog

Early Signs That a Relative May Have Dementia

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Posted on November 6th, 2017 by Sally Perkins, under Alzheimer's and Dementia

According to statistics, 50 million people suffer from dementia worldwide with many not receiving a formal diagnosis. Recognizing the early signs could help prevent dementia worsening by making lifestyle changes and getting appropriate medical help from a recommended specialist. Here are some of the signs that your parent or relative could be suffering from dementia.

Issues With Speech or Writing

One of the most noticeable early signs of dementia and cognitive problems is issues with words and speech. Recent studies have shown that slowing and long-winded speech patterns could be one of the first stages in the onset of dementia in older adults. Initially, your relative may begin to replace one word with another in a sentence.  They may be unable to fully form sentences without losing their train of thought and pausing or they may repeat themselves. If you are unsure your relative is suffering from dementia or if there is something else underlying, an advocate can help direct you to the correct medical professional for a diagnosis.

Memory Problems

Memory loss in older adults may happen naturally and is not necessarily a symptom of dementia. They must be experiencing two or more symptoms of dementia before being diagnosed but frequent memory loss is considered to be one of those symptoms. It is particularly concerning if the memory loss disrupts daily activities such as appointments or meetings with relatives and friends. Is your relative relying  on memory aids or forgets recent information?  If you answer yes, you may need to consult a medical professional.

Mood Swings and Apathy

Indifference to tasks or activities may initially appear as a change in your relative’s behavior.  Activities they participated in the past are not enjoyable.  They may also shift quickly between depression, anxiety or anger. They may also become suspicious, fearful or withdrawn particularly when meeting new people or going into new environments. Your relative may withdraw to avoid people noticing their behavior changes.  They may also fear embarrassment if others notice something is wrong. Try to speak with them alone if this becomes noticeable to ensure they get the medical attention they need.

Other noticeable early signs include difficulty with everyday tasks, misplacing things, poor judgment or vision problems. Seek support from a professional RN advocate.  It’s important to obtain an accurate diagnosis and help as appropriate.   

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