More than 50 million people around the world have dementia, and 10 million more are diagnosed each year, according to the World Health Organization. In fact, one in 10 Americans 65 and older has Alzheimer’s dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
With numbers like these, the odds are good someone you know will be impacted by dementia at some point in your life. Let’s look at 11 symptoms you should look for in your aging loved ones:
- Memory loss that impacts daily life. The most commonly recognized sign of dementia is memory loss. However, this is more than mere forgetfulness. It is the type of memory loss that makes it hard to learn new information or remember important dates or events. Those with dementia-related memory loss will remember items they’ve previously forgotten, and it will disrupt their daily life in many ways.
- Issues with planning or solving problems. Deficits in executive functioning is a symptom of dementia. This can include a wide range of things, such as planning and problem-solving. People who have dementia might experience trouble with regular work tasks, trouble problem solving with minor issues, or difficulty planning a schedule. Some memory loss is expected in old age. However, impairment in problem-solving or with planning isn’t.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks. A person may have trouble doing tasks they ordinarily do, like using the computer, making coffee, or following their normal work routine.
- New problems with words in speaking or writing. At first, it might be amusing to hear your loved one call a banana a donut or something else, but continued incidents of this behavior is worrisome and may be a symptom of dementia.
- Confusion as to time or place. Forgetting their location or how to get to or from familiar places is another common early signal of dementia. These can lead to danger for someone with dementia to run an errand or live on their own.
- Trouble with visual images and spatial relationships. Visuospatial abilities are the ability to understand what we see around us and interpret spatial relationships. Dementia can bring on a decline in visuospatial abilities, such as reading, judging distance, or trouble with depth perception.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. People with dementia increasingly put things in strange locations and can’t find them. In fact, they may accuse others of stealing the items.
- Changing moods, personality, and judgment. These changes are due to damage in vital areas of the brain which can lead to depression, manic-like behaviors and frequent changes in emotions called emotional lability. Dementia causes damage to the frontal lobe systems, and it can result in a loss in the ability to make sound judgments about insignificant or substantial issues.
- Social withdrawal. While we all like some quiet time, with dementia, it’s important to recognize if there’s a change of behavior and withdrawal from social activities they’re enjoyed in the past.
- Difficulty concentrating. Background noise and loud environments can make it difficult for a person suffering from dementia to concentrate. It makes them frustrated and makes conversations difficult. There’s not much you can do about the concentration problems, but you can help make their environment less stimulating. Reducing distractions and using the person’s name often as you speak to him or her.
- Hallucinations. Finally, hallucinations are a symptom worth discussing with a healthcare provider. If you notice your loved one becoming upset about events that didn’t happen, talk with their doctor.
Read more about Dementia and what is known about possible cures or preventative measures here.
Reference: KSL.com (Dec. 29, 2020) “11 signs of dementia everyone should know”