According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans live daily with dementia. In fact, every 67 seconds, someone in the United States develops dementia.
Dementia is a collection of symptoms that can be caused by various diseases. The leading cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia can also be caused by brain damage incurred from any injury or stroke or from other diseases like Huntington’s or Lewy body dementia. Many people write in to Nurse Gina to ask about dementia and its early signs versus normal age-appropriate forgetfulness. Here are some signs to consider:
- Memory Loss: If you or a loved one is experience some memory problems, you might think dementia. Actually, you need to have at least two types of impairment that are significant enough to interfere with everyday life to be considered for a dementia diagnosis – including experiencing impairments in language, communication, focus or reasoning.
- Short-Term Memory Loss: A subtle change in how you or your elderly relative remember short-term activities could be an early sign. An example would be that they can remember years past, but not what they had for breakfast.
- Difficulty Communicating: Struggling to communicate thoughts the way they want or can’t seem to explain things could be an early symptom. It takes them a while to form what they want to say and conclude their thoughts.
- Mood Swings: We all get moody. However, mood changes such as depression or a shift in personality – from shy to outgoing – could be early signs.
- Apathy: Listlessness or apathy is a common symptom of dementia. Losing interest in hobbies or activities or not wanting to spend time with family or friends could be an early sign.
- Unable to Complete Normal Tasks: If you or a loved one have difficulties doing normal tasks – such as putting away dishes and folding clothing — to more complex tasks such as balancing your checkbook or playing games early onset dementia could be upon you.
As we grow older, we all have changes in how we function and our abilities. For instance, it is a natural part of aging to slow down. Even simple tasks that we did in our 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s can become more challenging.
If you have any questions whether your symptoms are a normal part of dementia or could signal dementia, make an appointment with your doctor. There is no single test that will reveal if you have dementia; rather, it’s a compilation of taking a medical history, conducting a neurological exam and running some mental status tests.
If your loved one is diagnosed with dementia and needs care, FirstLight Home Care can help. Our caregivers can tend to daily needs in addition to keeping the brain active. To read more about how we handle dementia, download our brochure.