Almost 40% of people over age 65 experience some form of memory loss. If there is no underlying medical condition causing this, it’s known as age-associated memory impairment. This is considered part of the natural aging process.
The term “dementia” doesn’t refer to one specific disease. Instead, it’s a broad term for a set of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Although people think of dementia primarily as a disease that affects the elderly, dementia is not a normal part of aging.
Any decline in memory functions can be alarming to seniors and their families. Initially, it’s difficult to identify if it’s due to normal memory loss or something more serious, such as dementia.
If you’re concerned about you or a loved one having dementia, here are ten warning signs of dementia, courtesy of the Alzheimer Society.
Sign 1: Memory loss that affects day-to-day abilities
It’s normal to occasionally forget appointments, colleagues’ names, or a friend’s phone number only to remember them a short while later. However, a person living with dementia may forget things more often or may have difficulty recalling information recently learned.
Sign 2: Difficulty performing familiar tasks
Busy people can be so distracted from time to time that they may forget to serve part of a meal, only to remember about it later. However, a person living with dementia or experiencing signs of dementia may have trouble completing tasks that have been familiar to them all their lives, such as preparing a meal or playing a game.
Sign 3: Problems with language
Anyone can have trouble finding the right word to express what they want to say. However, a person living with dementia may forget simple words or substitute words such that what they are saying is difficult to understand.
Sign 4: Disorientation in time and space
It’s common to forget the day of the week or one’s destination – for a moment. However, people experiencing dementia can become lost on their own street, without a clue of their own address.
Sign 5: Impaired judgment
People may make questionable decisions from time to time, such as putting off seeing a doctor when they are not feeling well. However, a person living with dementia may experience changes in judgment or decision-making, such as not recognizing a medical problem that needs attention or wearing heavy clothing on a hot day.
Sign 6: Problems with abstract thinking
From time to time, people may have difficulty with tasks that require abstract thinking, such as using a calculator or balancing a checkbook. However, someone living with dementia may have significant difficulties with such tasks because of a loss of understanding of what numbers are and how they are used.
Sign 7: Misplacing things
Anyone can temporarily misplace a wallet or keys. However, a person living with dementia may put things in inappropriate places—for example, an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.
Sign 8: Changes in mood and behavior
Anyone can feel sad or moody from time to time. However, someone living with dementia can show varied mood swings – from calmness to tears to anger – for no apparent reason.
Sign 9: Changes in personality
Personalities can change in subtle ways over time. However, a person living with dementia may experience more striking personality changes and can become confused, suspicious, or withdrawn. Changes may also include lack of interest or fearfulness.
Sign 10: Loss of initiative
It’s normal to tire of housework, business activities, or social obligations, but most people regain their initiative. However, a person living with dementia may become passive and disinterested and require cues and prompting to become involved.
It’s essential to catch these warning signs early on so you can get the benefits of an early diagnosis. If you are concerned about any of these signs, the next step is to talk to your doctor. After multiple assessments and tests, only a qualified healthcare provider can confirm whether you or someone you know has dementia.
HomeChoice Home Care Solutions caregivers are experienced in caring for older adults with dementia. We’ve been helping families and seniors live comfortably at home with this disorder for over 15 years.
If you live in the Raleigh, Durham, and Cary areas, call us at (919) 847-5622. We’re here for you.