One of the trickiest parts of identifying dementia in a loved one is that most of us think that we know what the signs of dementia are and could spot them in a loved one. However, dementia usually comes on gradually, so that early signs may be difficult to detect. In addition, while we often think of dementia as forgetfulness and confusion, there are other lesser-known early warning signs.
- Difficulty communicating. Trouble translating thoughts into words or having a rambling speech pattern can both be early warning signs of dementia. If a loved one begins struggling to put together sentences or effectively communicating, it could be a warning sign of dementia. Communication issues can also be a sign of a stroke, so if a loved one seems to be having newfound communication issues, it is important to have them assessed by a medical professional.
- Loss of hand-eye coordination. Fine motor skills can be impacted by dementia, so if a loved one seems to be losing hand-eye coordination, it could be a warning sign. Of course, other age-related conditions, such as arthritis, can also impact the ability to complete fine motor tasks.
- Social withdrawal. Dementia can rob people of some of the joy of interacting with others, leading to social withdrawal. If someone seems less likely to join in activities or interact with people when they are present, it could be a sign of dementia.
- Low energy. Dementia often impacts motivation and drive, which can appear like someone is lethargic or low energy. A change in energy levels can also indicate other underlying health problems, so they should always be investigated.
- Trouble following instructions. Whether it is a newfound inability to follow simple instructions like those found in recipes or getting lost easily, difficulty following step-by-step directions can indicate cognitive impairment.