Recognising changes in your ageing loved one’s mind and body can be very upsetting, but early detection can help them access the care they need. Sadly, in Australia today, almost 450,000 people live with Dementia, and those numbers are growing. If you are noticing your loved one doesn’t seem themselves anymore, they may be showing the early signs of Dementia. These signs are explained below, but it’s important to note, these signs may be caused by other diagnoses. Because of this, a doctor is the person who can officially diagnose Dementia.
Early warning signs of Dementia
1. Memory loss affecting daily life
It’s normal for your loved one to forget where they placed their keys every so often, but Dementia-related memory loss is different. A person with Dementia may forget things regularly, and be unable to remember them even when prompted.
2. Confusion about time and place
A person with Dementia may be unable to recognise a location they visit regularly, and have no ability to tell you the time, or which day it is even when prompted.
If your loved one begins to find their local shop foreign, having no idea how get home, they may be showing early signs of Dementia. Dementia-related confusion is very different to your loved one forgetting which day it is, then remembering soon after.
3. Difficulty performing familiar tasks
If your loved one is known for preparing a formidable Sunday Roast, but suddenly gets confused how to put the meal together, they may be showing signs of Dementia. Familiar tasks can become confusing and overwhelming for people with Dementia.
4. Problems with language
If your loved one begins to substitute words they can’t remember, with strange, inappropriate words, they may be showing the early signs of Dementia. Dementia-related language confusion is very different to your loved one forgetting which word to choose for a moment.
5. Misplacing things and putting them away in strange places
We all forget where we’ve put things from time to time, but a person with Dementia may forget completely, or put their things in strange places. Finding the cheese grater in the washing machine is an example of dementia-related confusion.
6. Problems with abstract thinking
If your loved one has trouble understanding what the numbers on a receipt mean, rather than just struggling to add them together, they may be showing the warning signs of Dementia.
7. Poor judgement with everyday tasks
Difficulty judging distances, such as the distance they need to step up their stairs, can be a sign your loved one may be developing Dementia.
8. Abrupt personality changes or flat mood long term
If your loved one is suddenly experiencing huge mood swings or very low mood and demotivation, they may have Dementia. Dementia-related mood changes are very different to the regular highs and lows of mood people experience in everyday life.
What to do if you notice the signs of Dementia in a loved one
If you’ve noticed your loved one is showing any of the warning signs above, it’s important to get them help as soon as you can. The process can take time, so the earlier you start, the better. A great way to start, is to take notes detailing the episodes of confusion, disorientation or personality changes you have observed, with the time and date they occurred. When you write them down over a few weeks, you can begin to see a clear pattern of change, or lack thereof, in your loved one’s cognition. These notes also help your doctor create a clear referral processes to begin testing for Dementia.
It’s important to remember, the warning signs above can be attributed to different diagnoses such as vitamin deficiencies, infections, metabolic disorders or the side effects of drugs or drug interactions. Dementia is not always the cause, so early assessment is the best way to proceed.
Look out for early warning signs of Dementia in your ageing loved one or parent. Involving your doctor can help you and your loved one begin the journey toward diagnosis, treatment and care, to keep them safe.
Article provided by Absolute Care & Health