Because there’s a heightened awareness of Alzheimer’s and dementia, do you worry that you or a loved one may be afflicted? Fortunately, there are tests and ways to determine if a diagnosis is in order. But, before seeking medical assistance, do you think you can recognize early signs of dementia?
Looking for Signs…
There has been lot of attention in the media and in medical literature in the past decade in regards to dementia. That is a good thing. If you or a friend or family member discovers neurological changes early on, you can take steps to impede the disease’s progress.
On the other hand, some people are prone to panicking. Just because they left their keys in the front door doesn’t mean they necessarily have Alzheimer’s. Memory loss can be quite common, especially if you’re under a considerable amount of stress. If a person can carry on his/her day with normalcy, (even forgetting a thing or two), chances are it’s not dementia setting in.
Should Women Worry Early?
A study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center showed that women going through menopause often struggle with mundane mental tasks. Hormonal changes definitely interfere with memory function. However, stress (also brought on by hormones) can be identified as one of the main culprits of memory interference.
Women (and men) can experience minor cognitive temporary impairment, but it’s not necessarily early signs of dementia. Most noteworthy, the cause is stress. Common stressors are:
- job pressure
- caretaking aging parents
- health concerns
As a result, we may experience a lack of sleep, anxiety, and chemical changes in our brain. However, with stress reduction, our bodies and minds can heal, and adverse symptoms should dissipate.
The Reality of Dementia and its Signs
Remember: we all can become forgetful at times, but it doesn’t necessarily affect our daily life in a crucial way. With dementia, however, mental ability declines to such an extent that everyday life becomes adversely affected. Additionally, there are several various forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common.
Clearly, it’s easier to detect signs that are blatant, such as not remembering whom anyone is or not being remembered by a close, loved one. But, there are symptoms that appear early on. Unfortunately, most of them gradually worsen over time.
- Time confusion. Patients get confused by what time it is, what time things are supposed to happen, or time to be somewhere. Often they don’t remember the day or date either.
- Age confusion. They forget how old they are. They are disoriented by years as well.
- Location confusion. Dementia sufferers sometimes cannot decipher where they are or where they need to go.
- Loss of personal items. Early on, patients may misplace key, wallets, glasses, etc. As the disease progresses, more items become “lost” and often the person may claim that someone is stealing from them.
- Losing items. Many times the items are misplaced but the patient claims they’re lost. They also often become paranoid that people are stealing their “lost” belongings.
- Detail confusion. Attention to detail may wane. This could include personal hygiene. A scary and common convoluted detail can be surrounding money. Someone with dementia may hoard money. Conversely, he may also give away money freely—even to a stranger.
- Retracing steps confusion. Cognitively, those with dementia have little or no ability to retrace where they’ve been or what they’ve done.
Taking Early Action
If you feel you may be experiencing these above symptoms, check in with your health care professional for advice. If another close to you is displaying symptoms, try and get them some help as soon as possible. Furthermore, there is ample research showing that early detection, along with treatment and healthy lifestyle changes can help thwart rapid progression of dementia.
For more tips on family health, check out other articles on GetThrive!