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6 Early Signs of Dementia

Dementia symptoms, including memory loss, can interfere with everyday life and cause panic and frustration for older adults. They may struggle with short-term memory lapses and forget simple things such as:

  • The location of their car or house keys
  • The phone number of a family member or friend
  • The item they were looking for in the kitchen or bedroom
  • What they ate for breakfast
  • Whether they took their medication

Experiencing memory loss isn’t a 100% indicator, but it’s important to spot the first signs of dementia to determine a clear diagnosis and treatment plan.

What are Early Dementia Signs and Symptoms?

Dementia affects each person differently, in varying degrees and at different rates. Individuals usually need to experience two or more symptoms that dramatically interfere with their daily life to receive a dementia diagnosis. However, if you notice one or more of the early signs in someone you love, schedule an appointment with a doctor who can make a complete assessment.

The first 6 signs and symptoms of dementia may include:

  • Forgetting things recently learned, important dates, names or other important information
  • Asking the same question or repeating the same story over and over
  • Getting lost in familiar places – Inability to backtrack or retrace steps
  • Unable to follow directions or stay on task
  • Becoming confused about time, people and places
  • Neglecting personal safety, hygiene and nutrition

What are Types of Dementia?

Dementia takes many forms, but all are caused by physical changes in the brain.

The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s, accounting for 60 to 70 percent of cases, according to the World Health Organization. Alzheimer’s is a slowly progressive brain disease that begins well before symptoms emerge. It is caused by changes in certain parts of the brain that result in the death of nerve cells.

As the damage spreads through the brain, so does the severity of symptoms. People living with Alzheimer’s will eventually require total medical care.

Other forms of dementia include:

The specific cause of each is different.

Know Your Risk and Reduce It

The three most important risk factors for Alzheimer’ are age, family history and genetics. Research has also found the following information:

  • Most individuals with Alzheimer’s disease are 65 and older.
  • One in nine people in that age group and nearly one-third of people aged 85 and older have Alzheimer’s.
  • People with a parent, brother or sister with Alzheimer’s are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. The risk increases if multiple family members have the disease.
  • Scientists have determined certain genes make some people more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. This is one risk factor and not a cause of Alzheimer’s.
  • Research also indicates that older Latinos and African-Americans are more at risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementia. The reasons are still unclear.

The risk of developing dementia increases with conditions that damage the heart and blood vessels, like heart disease, diabetes and stroke. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can also increase risk. Work with your doctor to manage and control these conditions.

Living with Dementia

Anyone with dementia should be under a doctor’s care. Alzheimer’s can be treated with certain medications. Those with vascular dementia should work to avoid further strokes by managing blood pressure, treating high cholesterol and diabetes and should not smoke cigarettes.

But many can live with dementia for years with help from family, friends and trained home care professionals.

These professionals are called caregivers and they’re an outstanding resource for helping loved ones who have dementia.

Caregivers can help those with dementia by ensuring they:

  • Adhere to daily and weekly routines
  • Continue social and physical activities
  • Are kept abreast of daily details and local news
  • Use memory aids like lists, simple-to-follow instructions and a calendar with daily to-do lists

Get a Memory Screening

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America provides free, confidential memory screenings throughout the U.S. on an ongoing basis. This kind of screening can help determine if someone might benefit from a comprehensive medical evaluation.

Visiting Angels is Here to Help

While it can be particularly hard on a family member providing dementia care, professional resources are available to help your loved one live safely and comfortably. Visiting Angels provides specialized in-home dementia care services for seniors with early-stage, mid-stage, or late-stage dementia. Our caregivers help people with dementia maintain quality of life inside their own home. We also provide family members with much-needed respite care.

If you're interested in more information about how in-home care can help your elderly loved ones, contact your nearest Visiting Angels office today or call 800-365-4189.
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