This article will give you some examples of the early signs of dementia, so that you can better understand if you or the people that you are concerned with are under risk.
There are many different possible causes of dementia, as the symptoms of dementia can result from a variety of different diseases. The symptoms of dementia include confusion, difficulty problem-solving, impairments in thought, communication, and memory loss.
Early signs of dementia
Here is the list of the most common first signs of dementia:
Short-term memory issues
Short-term memory issues are usually the first signs of dementia. A person might be able to remember events that took place years ago (such as weddings and other major life events), but is not able to recall what they had for breakfast, where they parked their car or what day is today.
Other short-term memory issues can be forgetting where the person left their wallet, struggling to remember the reason for coming to a certain place or the social context in which they find themselves in. All of these are classic examples of early signs of dementia.
Difficulty finding the right words
Another common early dementia sign is having difficulties in finding the right words. A person who suffers from dementia might be struggling to express themselves, unable to find the precise words they are looking for. To speak with someone who suffers from dementia can be confusing and difficult to understand.
Another common sign of dementia is sudden mood changes. It is typical for people with dementia to appear depressed, irritated, anxious or restless.
Symptoms of dementia
Aside from the symptoms mentioned above, which are considered the common first signs of dementia, there are other symptoms and behavioral changes that are apparent in people who suffer from dementia. These symptoms usually start to show up in a more advanced phase of the disease, and tend to get worse with time:
Difficulty completing normal tasks
Since dementia affects the parts of the brain that are related to both memory and structured, linear thinking, it is quite common for people who suffer from dementia to demonstrate difficulties completing complex tasks or playing games with complicated rules that require concentration and focus.
Difficulty learning new skills
Together with the difficulty to complete complicated tasks, a person who suffers from dementia might also have severe difficulties learning and integrating new skills, routines or knowledge, as the ability to learn new things requires short-term memory and strong concentration.
Difficulty staying focused
Another sign of dementia is difficulty in following up on a conversation or a storyline. Some with dementia are likely to lose the context of the conversation and ask the same questions again and again.
Losing a sense of orientation
The sense of spatial orientation and direction starts to worsen when someone suffers from dementia. It can appear as difficulty remembering how to get to different places, and a general confusion with orientation and navigation.
Causes of dementia
The causes of dementia differ between the different types of dementia. Since dementia is a general term for memory-related diseases that are caused by neurological dysfunction in the brain, the root cause is always related to defects in some parts of the brain cells.
Causes of Alzheimer’s disease
In the case of Alzheimer’s disease (the most common type of dementia), for example, the root cause is the build-up of abnormal protein clamps in the brain. These clamps are created from an accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles, and create damage to the brain cells.
This is not the only factor though, another important factor to the creation and severity of Alzheimer’s disease is inflammation in the brain, which is caused by a dysfunction of the Microglia, a glial cell that is responsible for eliminating waste and toxins in the brain.
Cause of Vascular dementia
Another very common type of dementia is called vascular dementia. In the case of vascular dementia, the root cause is a narrowing or a blockage in certain blood vessels in the brain, which result in insufficient blood supply. The brain cells that do not receive enough blood supply for long periods of time are damaged and at some point die, which causes the symptoms of memory loss and cognitive decline.
How to know if a person suffers from dementia?
If you, or someone you love, demonstrate a combination of the symptoms of dementia mentioned above, it is highly important to get a professional diagnosis as soon as possible. Since there are many other possible causes for memory loss and the other symptoms mentioned above (such as medications, stress or injury) – you will be asked to answer many questions in regards to the severity of the symptoms, such as when they started to appear, and other relevant aspects of your life.
The sooner you get a professional diagnosis the better, as this will allow you to start proper treatment and increase your chances of slowing down or even stopping the decline in memory and cognitive abilities.