Elderly man showing early signs of dementia takes a walk with female caregiver near the river.

6 Early Signs of Dementia

Dementia symptoms, including memory problems, can interfere with everyday life and cause panic and frustration for older adults who may struggle with short-term memory loss 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 signs 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 diagnosis. However, if you notice one or more signs in someone you love, schedule an appointment with a doctor who can make a complete assessment.

Six early warning symptoms may include:

  1. Forgetting things recently learned, important dates, names, or other important information
  2. Asking the same question or repeating the same story over and over
  3. Getting lost in familiar places – Inability to backtrack or retrace steps
  4. Unable to follow directions or focus on familiar tasks
  5. Becoming confused about time, people, and places
  6. Neglecting personal safety, hygiene, and nutrition

Types of Dementia

Many common types of dementia exist, but all are caused by physical changes in the brain.

The most common form 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 dementia types include:

The specific cause of each is different.

Know Your Risk and Reduce It

The three most important risk factors for Alzheimer's 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 diagnosed 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 the condition 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 individuals 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.

Home Care Services

While it can be particularly hard on a family member providing care, especially if a senior is battling with dementia and anger. Professional resources are available to help seniors live safely and comfortably. Visiting Angels provides specialized in-home dementia care services for seniors in early-, mid-, or late-stages. Our caregivers help seniors maintain quality of life inside their own home. We also provide family members with much-needed respite care.

If you're interested in our compassionate home care services for you or a loved one, contact your nearest Visiting Angels home care agency today or call 800-365-4189.
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