It’s so easy to confuse the range of terminology associated with memory impairment. But, what they all have in common is they are all forms of dementia. Think of dementia as an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of memory oriented symptoms that affect an individual’s cognitive abilities. This includes diagnoses such as Wenicke-Korsakoff syndrome, Parkinson’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s (just to name a few). Semantics aside, understanding how to recognize the signs is what matters most. Here is a brief list showcasing six of the most common signs to look for when trying to distinguish dementia from everyday normal behavior:
One of the first signs that dementia is taking hold is social retreat. You may begin to notice loved ones or friends starting to isolate themselves in places that feel more familiar to them. Other times, it’s not quite apparent. Social withdrawal might mean they have simply become unresponsive or distant in social situations. It’s easier to notice if the individual is traditionally extroverted in nature, but may not be quite as apparent for people who lean on the “shyer” side; so keep a careful eye.
Familiar Tasks Become Difficult
Another clue that dementia may be occurring is tasks that were once familiar and simple, are now difficult or confusing to accomplish. If you notice established everyday tasks, such as brushing teeth or paying the bills, have become arduous or difficult for someone you know, then you might be observing some early signs of dementia.
Changes in Vision
A change in vision is another telltale sign that dementia may be settling in. People with dementia and (especially Alzheimer’s patients) can experience distortions in sight which may propel them to
misinterpret their environment. The intensity of these misinterpretations can range anywhere from misperceptions to misidentifications, or even hallucinations. If you notice someone experiencing abnormal changes in vision or claim to see something that you never saw, please contact a medical professional.
While it might feel redundant, memory loss is the simplest way to determine the existence of dementia. One important thing to note is the distinction between “forgetting” something and true memory loss. We all forget things; we all forget where our car keys are from time to time. But, if someone holds their car keys in their hand and can’t remember what they’re used for, then they are exhibiting signs of dementia.
Changes in Mood
Quick changes in mood and temperament can also be a signal that someone might be experiencing dementia. If you notice that someone inexplicably becomes edgy or switches rapidly between emotional states, they might be showing the early signs of memory loss. Changes in mood are often the singular link between many of the other dementia symptoms. As victims of dementia lose the ability to execute normal daily activity, they can become increasingly frustrated or sad.
Confusion of Time & Place
People with dementia can be disoriented by time and place, often not realizing what day, month or even year it is. This can lead to changes in mood due to their understandable frustration. If you notice someone you care for has a lost sense of time and place they might be experiencing the onset of dementia.
While there are many other signs that imply the onset of dementia, these six are a common place to start. If you notice any of these symptoms please contact your family doctor or a medical professional. While there is no cure for dementia, patients reap tremendous benefit from early detection coupled with proper medical care.