Contrary to common thought, dementia is not a disease in and of itself. Rather, dementia is an umbrella term which encompasses any type of decline in mental ability that is severe enough to impact a person’s ability to perform their everyday activities. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease, which accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all cases. The second most common type of dementia is vascular dementia, which is the result of a stroke. Other conditions that can cause dementia symptoms include concussions, thyroid disease, and vitamin deficiencies.
Unfortunately, there is no specific medical test to diagnose for dementia. Doctors will arrive at a dementia diagnoses based on physical examination, detailed medical history, blood work, and the symptoms being experienced. Unfortunately, even if a doctor can be certain a patient is suffering from dementia, it may not always be possible to specify the type. If you are concerned that someone you love may be suffering from dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association has created a list of the 10 most common warning signs of dementia.
- The most common sign of the onset of dementia is memory loss, especially forgetting information learned recently. This can also manifest itself through forgetting significant dates or events, asking for the same information repeatedly, and increasingly needing to write down things they could easily remember before.
- Another sign is a major change in the ability to follow a plan, such as paying monthly bills or following a recipe. You may notice your loved one having difficulty concentrating and/or taking much longer to accomplish tasks.
- In fact, people developing dementia have a difficult time completing once familiar tasks in general. They may forget how to drive to a common location, how to play a favorite game, or how to complete a common task at work.
- Time and place may become confusing to someone with dementia. They can lose track of dates, seasons of the year, and the passage of time in general. They may forget where they are or how they arrived there.
- Another sign of dementia is trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. They can have trouble judging the distance between things, and may start to have trouble with colors and contrast.
- People developing dementia may start to have problems with speaking or writing. They may have trouble following conversations, forget the meaning of words they previously knew, and call things by the wrong name.
- Misplacing things can be a sign of dementia. Your loved one may lose something, be unable to remember where they placed it, and perhaps be confused enough to accuse someone of stealing the lost item.
- Decreased judgement is another sign of dementia. You may see a loved one make poor decisions with their money, or cease paying attention to their grooming.
- You may notice someone beginning to suffer from dementia withdraw from their usual hobbies and social activities. They may be trying to hide the changes happening to them from others.
- Finally, dementia can cause changes in mood and personality. You may find your loved one is easily upset, confused, anxious, suspicious, depressed, or fearful in a way they have never been before.
If you are concerned about a loved one showing these symptoms, offer to go with them to the doctor as soon as possible.