According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 47 million people are currently living with dementia. This number is projected to increase to 75 million by 2030. Because of the increasing prevalence of dementia, it’s important to be aware of the warning signs and to be comfortable having a conversation with aging loved ones about the early symptoms of dementia. Here are the first signs of dementia to be aware of:
1. Short-Term Memory Changes
Subtle short-term memory loss or memory changes can be a warning sign of dementia. These changes are often subtle, but can include situations like forgetting what they had for breakfast, or failing to remember why they entered a room or began a task. It’s important to note that this sign of early dementia can leave long-term memory intact, while still blurring their short-term memory.
2. Sudden Mood Changes
It can be alarming when a usually mild-tempered person erupts with anger, or when a classically gregarious individual is timid among friends. This is not a change to ignore in aging loved ones, as it is a classic sign of early dementia. In addition to sudden mood changes, also keep an eye out for depression as this can also be indicative of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Apathy, or a feeling of being detached, is another common dementia warning sign. Apathy is a hard emotion to pinpoint, but can involve a lack of interest in hobbies or activities that are typically enjoyable for the individual. Whether that’s continuing to cancel coffee dates with a dear friend or not wanting to read their favorite author anymore, this should be something to watch out for.
4. Difficulty with Normal Tasks
Having difficulty with everyday tasks is another sign of early dementia. This can start with not remembering how to complete daily activities, like making breakfast or coffee, to more complex routines like paying bills. In addition to struggling with common tasks, you might notice a struggle or inability to learn new routines.
Confusion is one of the better-known symptoms of dementia and it’s important to be empathetic to the jarring nature of this warning sign. Confusion is often linked to the short-term memory loss experienced by those with dementia. This combination may make them feel completely disoriented in an otherwise familiar environment and can lead to personality or routine changes.
Start the Discussion
Early detection of dementia can help optimize the overall quality of life, physical health, and cognition of those diagnosed with dementia. If you are seeking a memory care community for yourself or a loved one, our skilled team at Artis Senior Living is here to listen to your needs and help start a discussion about memory care.