Watching someone you love fall victim to forms of dementia like Alzheimer’s disease can be hard to handle. Dementia is a term that’s used to describe a range of symptoms that impact daily functioning and affect thinking, social abilities, and memory. If one of your family members has begun to act out of character, this could be a sign that they have dementia.
Unfortunately, dementia tends to get worse over time, so it’s important that you know the early red flags that can help you take action and provide the best love, support, and care possible. For an individual to receive a dementia diagnosis, here are 10 early signs and symptoms that you need to look out for.
One of the most common symptoms of dementia is memory loss. A person with dementia may have trouble remembering information that they’ve newly learned, such as events and dates. They may also find that they rely on family members and friends as memory aids to keep track of things. While it’s normal to occasionally forget things as we age, if you have noticed a stark decline in your loved one’s cognitive function, it may be time for them to see a doctor.
Difficulty Performing Familiar Tasks
A person who has dementia may struggle to follow plans. Whether it’s following a recipe when cooking dinner, or listening to directions when driving, those with dementia will find it more difficult to problem solve. If your loved one likes to keep a happy home, you may notice a difference in how well maintained their property is, which is a cause for concern. While you may initially want to assist them in day to day errands, your loved one may react in anger, so it’s best to monitor the situation for now and keep track of how they perform familiar tasks.
Problems with Speech
If your loved one is finding it hard to get their words out, this is another early warning sign that they may have dementia. They may start to forget what they’re saying or what the other person has said, or find it hard to engage in a conversation. Those with dementia may also notice a decline in their grammar, punctuation, and spelling. While we all forget words from time to time, we eventually remember them, whereas a person with dementia may be unable to retrieve the word even after trying for a considerable time.
A person who has dementia may find it hard to remember where they leave day to day objects. Whether it’s the remote control, money, car keys, or important documents, misplacing possessions can be highly frustrating for the individual and they may begin accusing others of stealing. The experience can be unsettling if you are the one accused, but you need to remember that your loved one may be suffering with dementia.
It can be difficult for those with dementia to understand what is reasonable and fair. This could mean that they pay too much for things or begin purchasing items that they don’t need. There are some people with dementia who start to lose interest in their appearance and find it hard to keep themselves presentable and clean.
Withdrawal from Socializing
If your loved one used to be the life and soul of the party and are now doing everything they can to stay at home and be away from others, this is a tell tale sign that they may have dementia. A person with dementia may lose interest in being around family and friends and not want to talk to others. They may also stop taking part in sports or hobbies that involve others. While there may be a multitude of reasons why they have started to distance themselves, such as developing anxiety and depression, dementia should not be ruled out.
Change in Mood or Personality
A person who has dementia may begin acting out of character and experiencing mood swings and personality changes. For instance, they may start to become depressed, fearful, and irritable. If you know your loved one inside out, you will be able to tell immediately whether there is a change in behavior and mood. Although it can be alarming to see your loved one in this mindset, the reason for it could be dementia.
For some individuals, the earliest warning sign of dementia is changes in vision. If your loved one is finding it hard to read or see the differences in contrast or color, this could be a sign that they have dementia. You may find that your loved one is having trouble with spatial relationships of furniture, such as the distance between their chair and table.
Trouble with Money
Troubles with finances is another warning sign of dementia that you need to look out for. To manage money effectively, you need to be able to think, remember and be sensible with your finances. If your loved one has started to lose track of their spending, forget what they have bought, or hand over money to strangers, this is a major cause for concern that needs to be addressed. The last thing you want is for your loved one’s finances to spiral out of control and rack up huge bills, so stepping in and offering support is key.
If you live nearby to your loved one and have noticed a huge difference in how they keep their home, it’s only natural that you will have worries about their safety. Whether they’ve got into the habit of leaving the oven on, or they’re forgetting to turn on lights at night, it may be time for your loved one to consider alternate accommodation like Brandywine Living. Many people living with dementia want to keep hold of their independence for as long as possible, so looking into assisted living and examining the options is important.
Seeing a loved one’s cognitive function decrease before your eyes can be heartbreaking. If any of the warning signs above ring true, it’s important that your loved one gets tested for dementia and receives the best support and guidance possible to lead a good quality of life going forward.