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Noticing the Early Signs of Dementia

Alzheimer's, Dementia & Memory Care | October 19, 2018

While the terms “Alzheimer’s disease” and “dementia” are often used interchangeably, it’s important to recognize the differences between them.  In simple terms, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, which is a general term used to describe symptoms that impact your memory, ability to communicate and ability to perform the activities of daily living.  If you have a history of Alzheimer’s disease in your family, it’s crucial that you are able to spot the early symptoms of dementia. While no cure currently exists for dementia or Alzheimer’s, the sooner you recognize the symptoms, the earlier you can begin talking to a doctor about management and treatment.  Here are some of the most common early symptoms of dementia:

  • Memory Loss – This is probably one of the most widely recognized symptoms of dementia, and it can be difficult to separate it from normal, age-related changes.  One way to distinguish the two is that dementia can cause you to forget information you learned very recently. If you used to be able to remember things easily but now find yourself relying on lists, notes or reminders, it may be time to speak to a doctor about your risk of developing dementia.
  • Confusion About Times and Places – A person with dementia may have difficulty distinguishing between the present and events that happened in the past.  They may become confused about where they are or how they got there, and may even react to past events as if they were happening now.  If you or a family member is experiencing symptoms like these, it’s important to see a doctor immediately.
  • Difficulty With Concentration, Planning or Problem Solving – If you’re normally on top of things but now find yourself having difficulty planning complex tasks or solving problems, it could be an early sign of dementia.  Some common planning issues include forgetting to pay bills. missing appointments or taking medications incorrectly.
  • Forgetting How to do Everyday Tasks – Some things you can do without thinking about them much, like driving to the store or recalling a recipe you’ve made dozens of times before.  If you’ve done these things with no problems for years but suddenly find yourself struggling to remember how, you should think about scheduling a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible.
  • Problems with Communicating – A person with early dementia may often lose their train of thought or frequently repeat the same stories or phrases as if they were saying them for the first time.  This confusion isn’t limited to speaking, either; it could also extend to writing.
  • Mood Changes – People with dementia can undergo rapid changes in personality or mood, causing them to become upset, confused, paranoid, depressed, or afraid.  If you or a loved one experiences symptoms like these, or have ever experienced them in the past, that affect their lives and interpersonal relationships, it could be an early sign of dementia.

These are just a few of the many early signs of dementia.  If you recognize these symptoms in yourself or someone you care about, it’s important to talk to a doctor right away, before they progress into Alzheimer’s disease or other, more severe forms of dementia.  Once the problem is identified, it’s more likely that your doctor can develop a treatment plan or discuss options like Memory Care Assisted Living or skilled care that can help you continue to have a full life while living with dementia.  At American Senior Communities, we’ll continue to hope for a cure but until then, we will strive to educate you about the signs and symptoms so you can recognize them in your own life.

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