7 Warning Signs of Dementia

Written by on September 5, 2013 in Health - No comments | Print this page

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alzheimers patient

My mother-in-law took the call. Since my wife and I were moving her into a seniors’ facility, I thought the call may have something to do with the logistics of the move, and thus I eaves-dropped.

My mother-in-law was courteous in assuring the caller everything was fine and things were going well, thanks for asking. When she hung up I asked who called?

“I don’t know,” my mother-in-law replied, sounding incredulous that I should ask.

It was funny then. As events materialized in following years, we look back at this incident as an early sign. We provided home care assistance for a time, but my mother-in-law’s cognitive dysfunction worsened steadily, at some point crossing the line from dementia to Alzheimer’s Disease, the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

It’s estimated that more than 5 million are now living with this disease, which counts among its victims former President Ronald Reagan.

Warning Signs

So is every memory lapse a reason for concern?

Virtually everyone is forgetful at times, regardless of age or physical or mental health. However, as people age, the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s increases.

It is estimated that by age 85, nearly 35 percent of people in older age groups become afflicted with some level of degenerative memory loss that can lead to dementia.

This usually consists of a gradual and worsening level of forgetfulness or mental skills. Below are some of the early warning signs of dementia for individuals to watch for in themselves and loved ones.

1. Disruptive memory loss. This is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. This may include forgetting key things like important instructions, safety precautions and significant dates concerning learned information.

As a result, some people begin to rely more heavily upon various memory aids and devices. However, disruptive memory can lead to safety breaches, accidents and other unfortunate circumstances.

2. New issues regarding speaking or writing. This can include trouble following or participating in a conversation. Some people stop in the midst of a conversation and then repeat themselves or are unaware of how to continue.

They could struggle with vocabulary and have issues finding simple words to express themselves.

3. Difficulty with tasks at home, work or leisure. People with the beginning stages of dementia often find it problematic to complete simple daily tasks. This could involve navigating around the home or outside, playing a game or managing work tasks that were never a problem before.

4. A decline in problem solving and planning abilities. This can begin to occur in early Alzheimer’s. Some may experience a change in their ability to develop and follow plans, work with numbers, follow familiar recipes or keep track of monthly bills.

There can also be difficulties with concentration and it could take much longer to process and complete tasks than before.

5. Confusion with the passage of time and place. These may not register properly due to short-term memory loss associated with important or simple tasks, names, seasons and holidays.

This usually is evident with a demonstrated inability to remember something that just occurred. For instance, not knowing where they are or how they got from one place to another.

6. Lack of understanding of visual and spatial images and relationships. Vision problems can occur in some people with early dementia. This may cause difficulties with reading, distance judging or determining contrast and color that affects driving and general navigation.

7. Withdrawal from work or other activities. As a precursor to dementia, some people begin to remove themselves from social activities, hobbies, sports or work projects.

This often occurs because they do not remember social obligations or feel that something is off which makes them uncomfortable.

These are just a few of the signs to watch for with regard to early dementia and Alzheimer’s. It is best to look into these signs as early as possible before something unfortunate occurs.

Because of his own experience, Terry Duschinski encourages you to watch for these signs in your elderly loved ones, and provide the necessary home care assistance when needed.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vincealongi/233836385/

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