Dementia – the early signs

demented man

Dementia is a collective term for the symptoms of a number of possible diseases.

The symptoms include difficulties in communicating well, thinking clearly and loss of memory.

Dementia is a collection of symptoms that can occur due to a variety of possible diseases. Dementia symptoms include impairments in thinking, communicating and memory.

But let us not jump to conclusions. As people get older many start to suffer from slight memory loss, but it doesn’t mean that it is the onset of dementia.

At least two types of impairment that SIGNIFICANTLY cause problems in everyday life have to be diagnosed before dementia is detected.

MEMORY PROBLEMS can be early symptoms of dementia; however, these changes are quite subtle and are more connected with short-term memory loss than events that may have taken place in the more distant past. Someone may have vivid memories of their childhood but can’t remember making a cup of tea 10 minutes before.

COMMUNICATION can be problematic with suffers speaking slowly and struggling to find the right words. Sometimes it takes a lot of patience to have a conversation with a dementia sufferer.

MOOD SWINGS AND PERSONALITY CHANGES are common too, and it is quite difficult to notice this yourself though others do. A quiet and introverted person may become loud and aggressive and visa-versa. This can be quite distressing – more for friends and family than the sufferer. Depression is another symptom of dementia.

APATHY is yet another warning sign of early dementia, as is loss of interest in hobbies or activities. The sufferer may just want to stay at home alone, becoming anti-social and not wanting contact or interaction with friends and family.

Doing simple everyday chores around the house become problematic, and more complex tasks such as handling money, paying bills or doing anything that involves a lot of thought prove to be difficult if not impossible. Anything new or unfamiliar is shunned.

CONFUSION is common in early-stage dementia where the sufferer may often have difficulty remembering faces, finding the right words or interacting with people normally. They may become unable to recognise friends or family members, misplace things and become unable to focus.

Difficulty watching and understanding long storylines on TV or even following a discussion become challenging. They also may keep asking the same questions over and over again even though they have already had an answer.

Being unable to recognise familiar places and landmarks is another symptom, as is a loss of sense of direction, hence even a simple situation such as being in a large supermarket can cause the sufferer to become completely disorientated. This can be a very frightening experience, so they prefer routine and familiar environments.

Forgetfulness and occasional memory loss are all part of the aging process. These symptoms can simply be brought on by tiredness, though they shouldn’t be ignored and need to be addressed if they are found to be frequent or start to impair normal everyday behaviour, in which case  medical advice should be sought.

Your local GP may refer you to a neurologist who will make an examination to determine whether the symptoms result from dementia or a different cognitive problem.

Tests for dementia, if deemed appropriate, may include; a complete series of memory and mental tests, a neurological exam, blood tests and brain imaging.

With early diagnosis and treatment, the progression of the disease can be slowed down, and mental function can be somewhat stabilised.


Keeping your mind active can help reduce the risk, as can physical exercise.

A diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D is thought to help too, as is a healthy diet which includes fruit, vegetables and lots of whole grains.

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