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8 Early Signs of Dementia You Should Know

As people age, it can be difficult to know if an elderly person is just dealing with normal everyday forgetfulness or whether dementia could be quietly creeping in. Dementia carries early warning signs, and it helps to know what you are looking for.  

By learning more about the nuances of dementia, you can more easily recognize its early warning signs. Early detection will allow you to take steps at the earliest opportunity to ensure your loved ones remain safe no matter what cognitive changes are taking place in their brains.

Here’s a look at what dementia is, how to distinguish between it and normal memory loss, and how a memory care provider can help. 

What Is Dementia?

Simply put, dementia occurs when someone loses some of their cognitive function. It impairs the way they think, reason, and remember things. Dementia may cause people to become emotional or result in a complete change in personality.

Most often, dementia symptoms are mild in the beginning. As time goes on, the symptoms generally become more severe and more frequent. In the most advanced stages, people living with dementia can no longer manage their activities of daily living (ADLs). They forget to do basic things like take a shower or eat. Family members find they stop getting dressed in the morning. Their hair is unkempt or men stop shaving. All forms of personal care seem to go by the wayside. 

Unfortunately for the person who lives with dementia, memory loss disrupts a person’s life and normal way of doing things. When family members have to step in and provide dementia care, it impacts their lives as well. The good news is that a bit of assistance with home care eases the burden for everyone involved.  

Distinguishing Between Normal Memory Loss and Dementia

When you notice an elderly person keeps forgetting things, it may be due to normal memory loss, but it could be a sign of something more serious. The best course of action is to monitor it to see if it’s just an occasional thing (which is normal with aging) or whether it is happening consistently. 

With normal memory loss, you can expect someone to occasionally forget things that happened recently, yet they remember things that happened long ago. A prime example of normal memory loss is when a person can’t find the right words, and the words suddenly come to them a few minutes later. 

By contrast, someone who starts forgetting things they’ve known all their lives such as places they lived, accomplishments they achieved, or where went to school may be living with dementia. If these things are occurring, the situation is likely to become worse, and family members must take the symptoms seriously. 

Take Note of these 8 Early Warning Signs of Dementia

While memory loss may be apparent, family members who are concerned about a loved one living with dementia should watch for the following 8 early warning signs of dementia:

  1. Difficulty retaining information – they learn something new and can’t remember it a few minutes later. Their short-term memory bank is not what it once was. 
  2. Forgetting how to do familiar tasks – it’s one thing to forget to put the salt shaker on the table, but forgetting how to make a simple grilled cheese sandwich is an early warning sign of dementia.
  3. Forgetting words or using odd word choices – we all occasionally can’t find an adjective to describe what we want to say, yet an early warning sign of dementia is that a person can’t find simple words everyone knows. To compensate, they may substitute a word that doesn’t fit what they want to say, which confuses others. 
  4. Easily disoriented – those who live with dementia are easily confused. They may have trouble keeping track of the day of the week. If they go outdoors, they may lose their way and become afraid even when they are in familiar surroundings. 
  5. Judgment is altered – they may not realize they need medical attention or they may go outdoors and lose their way, even in familiar surroundings. 
  6. Difficulty with thinking and understanding – an early warning sign of dementia is a person who can’t reason or think things through such as how to meal plan for the week.
  7. Misplacing things – we all misplace things such as keys or coffee mug, but an early warning sign of dementia is seeing things like pencils in the freezer or clean laundry in the garbage.
  8. Changes in personality, mood, and behavior – people who were once highly confident may become withdrawn or they may have uncharacteristic outbursts.

How Can a Memory Care or Dementia Care Provider Help?

It is possible for some people living with memory issues to remain living at home with the assistance of elderly in-home care. About four times the number of elderly people live in community settings than in other types of elder nursing care.  

Memory care workers can provide care for people who live with dementia or memory loss regardless of what caused the affliction. 

Those living with memory loss can receive care in the comfort of their homes where they have the best chance of recovery from a traumatic injury or they need long-term dementia care. Memory care providers help with cleaning, cooking, and other light household duties in addition to caring for a client. 

To learn more about how to care for your loved one living with dementia or memory loss, contact one of our knowledgeable staff members at Astir Home Healthcare at 201-685-4441 today!

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