Early Common Signs of Dementia
What are the early common signs of dementia? Have you noticed that your mother can’t remember where she put her glasses? Or maybe you’ve watched your father trying to find the word he needs…again? Some change in memory is normal as we age. But we need to recognize the difference between normal age-related memory changes and possible warning signs of dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association https://www.alz.org/ has developed a checklist of early common signs of dementia.
Declining memory, especially short-term memory, is the most common early sign of dementia. You can put it down to a senior moment when your mom briefly forgets her next-door neighbor’s name or her appointment at the nail parlor. But it’s a warning sign when she forgets who her neighbor is or when she asks you for the same information over and over again.
Difficulty with Familiar Tasks
People with dementia often find it hard to complete everyday tasks that used to be familiar. If your mom forgets how to fry an egg or your father forgets how to play a card game he always enjoyed, you may be noticing an early sign of dementia.
Problems with Language
Your father is having a senior moment if he occasionally struggles to find the right word. But it’s a warning sign when he often forgets simple words or substitutes unusual words.
Disorientation with Time and Place
If your mom forgets the day of the week or why she walked into a room, she’s probably just having a senior moment. But it’s a warning sign when she gets lost in the neighborhood she’s lived in all her life or when she forgets how she got somewhere and cannot find her way home.
We all make questionable decisions at times. But it’s more than just a senior moment when your dad gives away a large sum of money to a telemarketer. Or when your mom insists on wearing her winter coat in the middle of a heat wave.
Problems with Abstract Thinking
Some of us find it challenging to balance our checkbooks and that’s fine. A person with dementia, however, will have trouble following a conversation or staying on top of paying their bills.
If your dad can’t remember where he placed his wallet, but can retrace his steps to find it, he’s probably having a senior moment. But if your mom put her glasses in the oven or her dentures in the cutlery drawer, it may be an early sign of dementia.
Changes in Mood or Personality
We all get moody from time to time. But a person with dementia may become extremely confused, anxious or irritable for no apparent reason.
Loss of Initiative
We all sometimes crave time alone. It’s a warning sign, however, when dad sleeps more than usual, watches television for hours or refuses to go to his woodwork club.
While there’s no clear-cut line between normal changes and warning signs, it’s always a good idea to check with a doctor if you think that your loved one’s level of function seems to be changing.