Dementia is a progressive brain disorder that affects memory, thinking, behavior, and the ability to perform daily activities. It is often associated with older age but is not a normal part of aging. There are more than 50 million people worldwide living with dementia, and this number is expected to triple by 2050. Early detection of dementia is crucial for managing the symptoms, improving the quality of life, and providing proper care and support.
While there is no single test for diagnosing dementia, there are certain telltale signs that your body may reveal early on. These signs can help you or your loved ones recognize potential warning signs of dementia and seek proper medical advice. Here are 12 telltale signs your body may reveal if you or someone you know is at risk for dementia.
Memory loss is one of the most common early signs of dementia. This can manifest as forgetting recent events, asking the same questions repeatedly, misplacing items, or having difficulty recalling familiar names or places. As dementia progresses, it can also affect long-term memory and make it difficult to remember important life events.
According to the Bright Focus Foundation, one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Furthermore, studies have shown that early detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease can significantly improve symptoms and slow down its progression.
Difficulty Performing Familiar Tasks
Another early sign of dementia is having difficulty performing familiar tasks, such as cooking, using appliances, or following a recipe. This can be due to forgetfulness or trouble with problem-solving and decision-making skills.
According to the World Alzheimer Report 2019, there are currently over 8 million people living with dementia worldwide who struggle with everyday tasks like getting dressed or preparing meals. Early detection can help individuals with dementia receive the proper care and support to maintain their independence for as long as possible.
Confusion and Disorientation
People with dementia may experience confusion and disorientation in familiar places or situations. They may also have trouble understanding time, dates, and locations. This can lead to wandering behavior, getting lost, or having difficulty following directions.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately six in 10 people living with dementia will wander at least once. This can be dangerous and increase the risk of accidents or injuries. Early detection can help prevent these risks and provide proper support for individuals with dementia.
Changes in Mood and Behavior
Dementia can cause changes in mood and behavior, such as sudden outbursts, irritability, or anxiety. These changes can be complex for family members and caregivers to handle, but they are often a result of the underlying brain changes caused by dementia.
A study published by the National Institute of Health found that older adults with significant declines in cognitive abilities were more likely to experience mood and behavioral changes associated with dementia. Early detection can help manage these symptoms and provide appropriate treatment and support.
As dementia progresses, individuals may have trouble finding the right words or understanding what others are saying. They may also repeat themselves or struggle to follow a conversation.
According to the National Institute of Health, communication is often one of the first skills affected by dementia. Early detection can help individuals with dementia and their loved ones learn new ways of communicating and maintain meaningful connections.
Poor Judgment and Decision-Making
Dementia can affect a person’s ability to make sound judgments or decisions, leading to poor choices or risky behaviors. This can also manifest as difficulty managing finances or planning for the future.
A study published by the National Institute of Health found that individuals with dementia had lower decision-making and problem-solving abilities compared to those without dementia. Early detection can help individuals with dementia receive the necessary support and guidance for managing their finances and planning for the future.
Changes in Personality
Dementia can cause personality changes, such as becoming more apathetic, withdrawn, or aggressive. These changes can be complex for family members to understand but are often a result of the underlying brain changes caused by dementia.
According to a study published by the World Health Organization, individuals with dementia often experience personality changes before memory loss or other cognitive symptoms. Early detection can help manage these changes and provide proper support for both individual with dementia and their loved ones.
Difficulty with Spatial Awareness
Spatial awareness is understanding where your body is in relation to your surroundings. Dementia can affect this ability, causing individuals to have difficulty judging distances or navigating familiar places.
A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that individuals with dementia had difficulty with spatial awareness tasks compared to those without dementia. Early detection can help individuals receive the necessary support and accommodations for managing these difficulties.
Changes in Vision
Dementia can cause changes in vision, such as difficulty judging distances or perceiving colors. These changes can make recognizing familiar objects difficult or navigating the environment safely.
A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that individuals with dementia had difficulty with visual perception tasks compared to those without dementia. Early detection can help individuals receive the necessary support and accommodations for managing these changes.
Difficulty with Motor Skills
Dementia can affect motor skills, making it challenging to perform activities that require coordination and fine motor movements, such as writing or buttoning a shirt. This can also manifest as difficulty with balance and coordination.
A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that individuals with dementia had lower motor skills compared to those without dementia. Early detection can help individuals receive the necessary support and accommodations for managing these difficulties.
Changes in Sleep Patterns
Dementia can cause changes in sleep patterns, such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, sleeping during the day, and staying awake at night. These changes can be frustrating for individuals with dementia and their caregivers, leading to fatigue and irritability.
A study published in the Sage Journals found that sleep disturbances were shared among individuals with dementia. Early detection can help manage these changes and support improving sleep patterns.
Withdrawal from Social Activities
As dementia progresses, individuals may withdraw from social activities they once enjoyed, such as hobbies, sports, or spending time with friends and family. This can be due to a lack of interest or difficulty participating in these activities.
A study published by the National Institute of Health found that social withdrawal was a common symptom among individuals with dementia. Early detection can help manage these changes and support maintaining meaningful connections.
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