Early Dementia Symptoms

Recognize the Early Signs of Dementia

Early dementia symptoms can include everything from occasionally forgetting an appointment to frequent falls or visual hallucinations.

The diagnosis of dementia should be made only by a licensed physician that specializes in this disease process. There are many other causes of memory loss that may also be happening.

Just because someone develops memory loss does not necessarily mean they have dementia. Every reversible cause should be ruled out and treated first.

Staying active, both mentally and physically, eating a healthy diet and taking some of the best vitamins for memory will also help delay the onset of memory problems.

Most of the early dementia symptoms are subtle. If you don't know the person very well, you may miss these early signs. Even when you are very close to the person, they can still be very difficult to recognize.

The earlier a diagnosis can be made the better.

Review these signs with your loved one's doctor as soon as you begin noticing changes. It could be something as simple as a Urinary Tract Infection or a medication reaction ... or it could be dementia. Either way, early diagnosis and treatment will lead to a better outcome.

Early Changes in Memory

Initially a dementia patient may experience short term memory loss. Occasionally forgetting names of neighbors, a book they just read or an appointment can indicate a more serious problem.

Changes in Thinking

Difficulty following the steps in a task or planning event that previously would not have been a problem could indicate a deeper issue.

Subtle Changes in Personality

Becoming tearful or emotional, especially in someone who has not had these traits previously, can be an early dementia symptom. The elderly, however, are often depressed in later years. Depression is treatable and should be ruled out as the cause of these changes before a dementia diagnosis is made.

Agitation or anger that is out of the norm is another cause for concern. Basically, you are looking for changes in personality of your loved one from what you know is normal for them.

Frequently Falling or Tripping

Due to visual changes that can occur with some of the dementias, people in the early stages often have a problem falling.

Changes in medications can make a person more likely to fall, either by decreasing their level of consciousness or making them dizzy. If your loved one has fallen, or you are worried about it, refer to the articles on chair alarms or bed alarms.

Inability to Make Decisions

Too many choices can often lead to frustration and the inability to make a decision at all. Sometimes, when you ask a person suffering with early dementia symptoms, what they had for dinner, the response will be: "Nothing. I couldn't decide what I wanted."

If you are seeing a new pattern developing, it is time to make an appointment for a medical check up.

Changes in Judgment

If dad has always been financially sound and suddenly starts giving his money away to complete strangers, you have every reason to be worried.

Although you can't make him stop, you may be able to make him understand that this could be a symptom of something more serious.

Other examples of changes in judgment can include taking a walk late at night alone, agreeing to obligations they have no way of carrying out or changing wills and long term plans, to name a few.

Early Communication Challenges

Communication involves many facets of brain activity. Conversation is composed of a verbal exchange of words and thoughts along with appropriate ebb and flow between the two people and appropriate facial expressions and body language.

You may begin to see changes in all aspects, or just one alone.

I can not stress enough the need for an early medical work up if you are noticing any of these changes that could indicate early dementia symptoms.

Do not let fear of the unknown prevent you for seeking appropriate medical intervention. Some types of dementia are more treatable than others but treatment works best if started early in the disease process.

Before accepting a diagnosis of dementia, all reversible causes of memory loss or brain function should be ruled out first. Some of the other causes of memory loss may be the sole contributor, or may be exacerbating an underlying dementia that can improve when they are treated.

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