Dementia is a general term used to describe a group of symptoms caused by different brain disorders.
It is normal, especially as we get older, for our memories to become slower. Changes such as finding it challenging to remember places and names are to be expected. However, if you start to see the signs of early dementia, there are some steps that it is advisable to do now.
Signs of different types of dementia
There are many different types of dementia and people can have more than one type of dementia at the same time. An indication that some form of dementia is occurring would be a mental decline severe enough to disrupt daily life.
- Forgetfulness severe enough to affect work, hobbies or social life
- Difficulty multitasking
- Mood changes
- Becoming disorientated or lost in familiar places
- Repeating things
- Trouble with expressing and organising thoughts
- Confusion and misplacing things
- Memory loss
- Difficulty focusing
- Changes to mood, personality or behaviour
- Difficulty walking and keeping balance
It’s a commonality for people to have both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia at the same time.
Dementia with Lewy bodies
- Memory problems
- Poor judgment and confusion
- Excessive drowsiness
- Fainting, unsteadiness and falls
- Disturbed sleep and vivid dreams
- Movement changes (shakiness, stiffness, lack of facial expression, problems with balance, falls)
Seeking medical advice about early signs of dementia
If you think that you or someone you are close to is experiencing symptoms of dementia, make an appointment to see a GP.
First of all, you may be able to rule it out. But if you are living with dementia, the earlier you are diagnosed the better, as you can improve your quality of life with early support and treatment.
An early diagnosis also gives you time to make decisions about your future care preferences, and put in place any plans that you may have.
There isn’t one single test that can diagnose dementia. A dementia diagnosis is based on the results of a series of assessments, which will be carried out by your GP or by a specialist at a memory clinic or hospital.
If you have received a diagnosis of dementia, this can be a scary and upsetting time for you and your family. You may also experience feelings of shock.
Take the time that you need to adjust to this news. You GP will handle any treatment, medication or monitoring that you need, but when you feel ready, here are some other things that you might want to think about after your diagnosis.
Ways to help someone with early dementia
In the early stages of dementia, many people are able to enjoy life in the same way as before their diagnosis.
As symptoms progress, the person may feel anxious, stressed and scared at not being able to remember things, follow conversations or concentrate.
It will be helpful to the person with dementia if you can help them get organised and into good routines now, which in turn will help them maintain skills, abilities and an active social life.
Encourage the person to help with everyday tasks, such as:
- laying the table
- taking the dog for a walk
If needed, memory aids used around the home can help the person remember where things are.
Getting into good routines now will make life easier in the future. If your loved one tends to leave house keys in different places, for example, searching for them is only going to get more frustrating for your loved one as time progresses.
You don’t need to cope alone
Whether it is you or someone else who has been diagnosed with the early signs of dementia, help and support is available for you both.
There are several organisations across the UK who can offer you advice and support about all stages of dementia.
Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK all offer advice, one-to-one support, and practical information and there may also be local support groups in your area.
If you are providing informal care to someone living with dementia, there are also carer’s support groups and online forums where you can meet and chat with people in the same situation.
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