How to detect early signs of dementia in old age

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Dementia is a complex condition that affects not only memory but also various aspects of a person’s cognitive functioning. Detecting the early signs of dementia is crucial for early intervention and management of the condition. While some symptoms may be subtle and easily overlooked, it is essential to be vigilant and aware of any changes in behavior or abilities in older adults. We will explore ten early signs of dementia that can help identify the condition in its early stages.

Failure to Recognise Sarcasm and Detect a Liar:

Research has shown that individuals with dementia, particularly frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and Alzheimer’s disease, may have difficulty recognizing sarcasm and detecting when someone is lying. Impairments in understanding social cues and subtle communication can be an early indication of dementia.

Falling More Frequently Than You Used To:

Frequent falls in older people may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. According to research, people who develop Alzheimer’s disease are more likely to have falls and accidents in the years preceding their diagnosis. If a person has a significant increase in falls, it is critical to consult a healthcare professional.

Ignorance of the Law and Other Social Norms:

Another unexpected early sign of dementia is a loss of social norms. Some dementia patients may engage in inappropriate behaviours such as shoplifting, breaking into someone’s home, or making sexual remarks or actions. While not everyone who exhibits such behaviours has dementia, a sudden and significant departure from one’s usual behaviour should raise concerns.

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Staring With ‘Reduced Gaze’ and Trouble Reading:

Dementia can affect eye movement, leading to what is known as “reduced gaze.” People with dementia may appear to stare frequently and have difficulty tracking lines while reading. This symptom is often noticeable to others, although the individual with dementia may not be fully aware of it.

Eating Nonfood Objects and Rancid Foods:

An unusual early sign of dementia is the consumption of nonfood objects or spoiled food. This behavior arises from a person’s confusion about the purpose of objects or forgetfulness about their function. For example, individuals with dementia may attempt to eat a flower from a vase because they are unaware of its inedibility.

Not Knowing What Objects Are Used For:

While it is normal to have difficulty finding the right word from time to time, losing knowledge about objects and their functions can indicate early-stage dementia. Individuals may not only forget the names of objects, but they may also have difficulty understanding their intended use. It is important to note that these people can still be competent in other areas of their lives.

Inappropriate Behaviour and Empathy Loss:

A person who suddenly loses empathy, says insulting or inappropriate things, and shows no awareness or remorse for their actions may be showing early signs of dementia. In the early stages of dementia, inability to comprehend social cues and the appropriateness of certain statements can be a significant symptom.

Increased Compulsive and Ritualistic Behaviours:

Dementia can manifest as an inclination towards extreme rituals or compulsive behaviors. While many people have certain habits or preferences, individuals with dementia may engage in excessive hoarding or repetitive actions beyond what is considered normal. These behaviors can provide insights into the presence of dementia.

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Having Trouble Managing Your Money:

Difficulty with money management is a classic early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Struggling to balance a checkbook, keep track of expenses, or make appropriate financial decisions can be indicative of dementia. It is important not to dismiss these difficulties as a natural consequence of aging but to recognize them as potential signs of a disease.

Difficulty Forming Speakable Words:

When individuals who were once fluent and articulate start experiencing difficulties in producing language smoothly, it could be a sign of dementia. While their cognitive abilities may be intact in other areas, they may struggle with articulating words and expressing themselves verbally.

It is crucial to note that the presence of one or more of these signs does not definitively indicate dementia. However, if an individual exhibits changes in behavior or abilities that deviate significantly from their previous patterns, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation.

Detecting early signs of dementia allows for timely medical intervention and appropriate care planning. A proper diagnosis can help individuals and their loved ones access support services and implement strategies to manage the condition effectively.

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