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7 Early Warning signs of Dementia

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November 27, 2017

It can be difficult for families to tell the difference between the average mental issues of growing older versus symptoms that can signal the early stages of dementia.

The changes may occur so gradually that family hasn’t noticed. The senior may have been able to adjust to problems well enough to disguise more serious issues. Or the family may be reluctant to see and admit that their loved one is having trouble that may require ongoing care.

Seniors may at first be diagnosed with “mild cognitive impairment” (MCI) if their symptoms are mild and do not yet qualify as dementia. In some people, these mild signs can remain the same for years. For others, the symptoms will become worse until they are diagnosed with dementia.

While anyone can have minor memory issues or lose some mental acuity in later years, dementia is not a natural part of aging. If you suspect your loved one is having problems that could indicate dementia, even in its early stages, it’s time to consult with their doctor for an assessment.

Here are some of the common early warning signs of dementia or MCI:

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life – Everyone can have forgetful moments, but if it becomes a matter of health or safety, it can be time to intervene.

2. Increased difficulty in planning or problem solving – Problem-solving may become more difficult because of memory loss, because of an inability to make decisions or even being unable to define the desired outcome. In some cases, this just requires a little extra patience as people age. In other cases, it can be a warning sign. Is it a drastic departure from your loved one’s normal, lifelong approach? If yes, then it may require some follow-up.

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks – Seniors may have difficulty with daily living tasks because of physical limitations, but dementia can also play a role. They may be confused about the sequence of an everyday process or even the function of the tools and objects needed to complete a task. Seniors may play off these difficulties with humor or blame it on “a senior moment,” but if it interferes with safety, health or hygiene it is cause for concern.

4. Confusion with time or place – Being unsure of where you are or whom you are with can be both scary and frustrating. Confusion may come across as anger or irritation. Seniors can become expert at compensating so loved ones won’t know they are having trouble. It can take a skilled eye to detect minor confusion that goes beyond normal aging issues.

5. Decreased or poor judgment – This can range from wearing clothes that aren’t seasonally appropriate to driving under hazardous conditions, trusting people who shouldn’t be trusted or even stealing or other illegal activity. When it becomes obvious, or when your senior becomes combative about their harmful choices, or it becomes a danger to their wellbeing, it should be a concern.

6. Withdrawal from friends and social activities – This can also be a sign of depression, but may mean your senior is frustrated by trying to navigate social activities and relationships that require active communications. Talk to them about why they have changed their habits.

7. Changes in mood and personality – A usually cheerful parent becomes hostile. A life-long reserved introvert becomes boisterous and overly outgoing. Someone “prim and proper” starts using profanity or acting out in ways inappropriate for the setting. These can all be red flags for early dementia.

Belvedere Home Care can do an in-home assessment with your loved one to determine a level of care that is appropriate for their health and daily living needs. We are experts in working with families and seniors who are dealing with dementia. We can help keep loved ones comfortable and safe in the familiar surroundings of their own home as long as possible.

Contact us today to learn more about our customized care programs and to schedule your assessment. Call (518) 694-9400 Option 4 or email info@belvedereservices.com.

Visit www.belvedere-homecare.com for more information.