What Are the Early Signs of Dementia?November 24, 2021
As we age, experiencing some degree of memory loss and forgetfulness is actually quite common. But how do you know when something more serious is happening in the brain, like dementia?
Because dementia — the term used to describe changes in the brain that cause a loss of functioning and interfere with daily life — can diminish memory, focus, attention span, language skills, problem-solving and visual perception, knowing the early signs of dementia is important.
Dementia can be diagnosed early. With an early diagnosis and proper care, the progression of some forms of dementia can actually be managed and even slowed down.
As an Elder or a loved one of an Elder, keep reading to learn more about dementia, including causes and symptoms of dementia, and discover the Horizon’s Memory Care at Oaks Senior Living.
When you’re taking note of symptoms you’re experiencing, you have more time to prepare for the road ahead, explore treatment options and find the best memory care, should you or a loved one need it later on.
Early Signs of Dementia
Some common signs associated with the onset of dementia include:
Short-term memory issues
You may notice that you or your loved one is becoming more forgetful than normal, such as forgetting important dates or events and repeating themselves more frequently. These shifts in memory loss are often gradual, affecting their short-term memory. A person displaying early onset dementia may not be able to remember the things they ate for breakfast or why they entered a room.
Struggles to find the right words
It may be difficult for a person experiencing early signs of dementia to describe something or find the right words to express themselves. It can also be difficult to have a meaningful conversation with a person with early onset dementia — making the actual conversation take longer to conclude due to their straying thoughts and inconsistent memory.
Changes in mood
You or your loved one may begin displaying mood swings and fluctuations in personality as well as experiencing confusion, depression, anxiety and fearfulness. Dementia can make an individual become increasingly irritated when something outside their normal routine takes place.
Withdrawing from social interactions and events
As the symptoms of early onset dementia begin to appear, you may notice your loved one becoming increasingly withdrawn from common social events, family get-togethers, or even hobbies that were previously important to them. Their avoidance can increase as the symptoms worsen.
Difficulty adapting to change
Experiencing memory loss and other changes will cause fear for individuals in the early stages of dementia. It becomes abundantly clear that they can’t remember what others are doing or who certain people are in their life. Because of this, they may become afraid to try new things, avoid change and stick closely to the routine they can recollect.
Symptoms of Dementia
Other symptoms associated with the onset and progression of dementia can include:
Aggression and anger
Research has shown that over 30% of dementia sufferers have experienced a reported flare-up of aggression and anger toward a loved one. Aggressive behavior is a stressful experience for both you and your loved one, and is often rooted in physical, mental and emotional issues they’re dealing with.
Hallucinations can occur during the later stages of a dementia-related illness. They often begin as auditory manifestations, but they can also impact your loved one’s other senses, causing them to see, hear, smell and feel things that may not be real.
Hoarding and hiding personal items
Over time, your loved one may begin the practice of hiding and hoarding personal items around their home. While hiding items is normally a harmless behavior, the more they engage in this conduct, the more likely they are to misplace something of genuine importance, or even place themselves in danger by losing essential items like medications.
Sundowning as the dementia increases
Dementia can dramatically impact your loved one’s normal sleep patterns. This type of sleep difficulty often presents itself in the form of sundowning, which is known as a heightened sense of restlessness, confusion and anxiety as night approaches.
When Should You See a Doctor?
It’s time to talk to your doctor if you or your loved one is finding it increasingly difficult to perform daily tasks, experiencing increased memory loss, or you begin noticing any combination of the previously mentioned signs and symptoms.
It’s common to conduct a medical and neurological exam to aid in identifying any potential diagnosis. With early detection, treatment options can be explored that can address specific symptoms and help you or your loved one maintain independence longer.
Common Causes of Dementia
Some common causes of dementia that are treatable can include:
- Head injury
- Brain tumors
- Infections such as meningitis
- Hormone disorders
- Metabolic disorders such as liver disease
- Nutritional deficiencies and chronic alcoholism
It’s important to understand that most disorders associated with dementia are progressive, irreversible, and steadily worsen over time. The two major degenerative causes of dementia are Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, where loss of brain function is due to a series of small strokes.
Can You Prevent Dementia?
There’s no definitive way to prevent all types of dementia. That being said, there’s good evidence that a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk of developing dementia as you age.
A healthy lifestyle can also help prevent cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and stroke, which are risk factors for vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Horizon’s Memory Care at Oaks Senior Living
Memory care is a specialized form of care for Elders struggling with memory loss due to dementia and other cognitive impairments.
Each Oaks Senior Living community offers a specialized memory care neighborhood called Horizons, a secure neighborhood designed to support the needs of residents living with dementia or another memory impairment. Our specially trained care partners deliver personalized care focused on keeping residents comfortable, engaged, and safe.
With bright and comfortable common areas that help minimize agitation and confusion, straight hallways, and a layout that enables residents to locate their apartments with ease in a safe and secure environment, Elders are empowered with the freedom of movement and a genuine sense of home.
Through individualized, compassionate care, our Horizons lifestyle directors and care partners work to ensure every resident receives frequent socialization, stimulation and independence, regardless of their level of cognitive functioning.
Interested to discover more about Oaks Senior Living’s memory care? Contact us to learn more or to get answers to all your memory care questions.
Helpful resource: Download our Alzheimer’s and Dementia Symptom Tracker Worksheet.