Early Warning Signs of Dementia
Some level of memory loss is a normal part of the aging process, but with Alzheimer’s and dementia being such devastating diseases, it is very normal for family members to worry whenever an older person begins to show some normal memory impairment. While a thorough evaluation by a healthcare professional is the best way to determine whether a loved-one is experiencing dementia, a person may be better-suited to a memory care facility than a traditional living facility if they are experiencing a combination of several of the following factors:
- Memory loss that impairs daily living. While having a more difficult time remembering things, taking a longer time to recall details, and occasional memory loss are a normal part of the aging process, when this memory loss begins to impair daily living activities, it suggests something more than the standard aging process.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks. Do work, home, or leisure tasks that were once routine now challenge your loved one? This can be an early sign of dementia. Of course, other health issues, such as changing vision, can also impact the ability to perform familiar tasks.
- Vision changes that are not caused by cataracts. Many people do not realize that Alzheimer’s and dementia can actually cause vision problems. Patients report having problems determining contrast, changing perceptions of colors, and problems gauging distances. These problems may first be obvious to others because of changes in how a person drives.
- Confusion about time. Those suffering from dementia may sometimes be unclear about what time it is or may think that they are in a different time period.
- Trouble with communication. Dementia can impact vocabulary and the ability to follow a conversation, which can manifest as difficulties with written and spoken communication.
- Challenges with planning or problem solving. If a relative is having difficulty solving a problem or challenge that would have been easy for them in the past that may be a red flag of worrisome cognitive decline.
- Decreased judgment. It is normal for everyone to make an occasional bad decision, but if a loved one’s judgment appears to be declining, it can be a sign of dementia.
- Misplacing or losing things. While misplacing things is part of the normal aging process, most people can retrace their steps to find the missing item. The key difference with those who are experiencing dementia is that they also frequently lose the ability to retrace their steps.
- Mood changes. The cognitive decline that comes with dementia can cause people to withdraw from normal activities because they are difficult to follow or comprehend. Other people may act angry, hostile, or sad for no apparent reason.