Did your parent forget to lock the door today?
While there are many causes for it, forgetfulness is one of the most common presentations of dementia
Simple reasons like sleep deprivation and stress can be a cause of forgetfulness too. Then, how do we identify dementia in our parents?
In general, a person needs to have at least two types of impairment that significantly interfere with his/her daily life to receive a dementia diagnosis. In addition to forgetfulness, a person may also experience impairments in language, communication, focus and reasoning.
Here are some early symptoms of dementia:
1. Problems with words in speaking or writing
People with dementia may have difficulty trying to find the right words to express themselves. They may have trouble following or joining a conversation and may stop in the middle of a conversation without any idea on how to continue.
2. Changes in mood and personality
Another symptom of dementia is a shift in personality and changes in mood. This is often hard for people with dementia to recognize themselves and thus, it is important for us, the people around them to observe and recognize.
3. Withdrawal from work or social activities
Apathy, or listlessness, is also common in early dementia. A person could lose interest in their hobbies or activities and have no desire to go out or to do anything fun. They might lose interest in spending time with their friends and family as well.
4. Challenges in planning or solving problems
People with dementia may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble concentrating and take longer than usual to execute things than before.
5. Difficulty in completing familiar tasks
Another symptom of dementia is struggling to complete familiar tasks. Dementia patients may have trouble driving to a familiar location or remembering the rules of a favourite game. In addition, they may struggle to learn how to do new things or follow new routines.
6. Confusion with time or place
With memory, thinking, or judgement lapses, confusion may arise as a person lose track of dates, seasons and passage of time. Dementia patients may forget where they are or how they got there, and in certain circumstances, the date and time of present day.
7. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
It is common for a person with dementia to have deteriorating sense of direction and spatial orientation. They may fail to recognize once-familiar landmarks and regularly used directions, as well as find it hard to follow step-by-step instructions or a series of directions.
8. Decreased or poor judgement
People with dementia may find it hard to make decisions. They may also pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean and have poor judgement when it comes to money.
Time to see a doctor?
At the end of the day, the onset and presentation of dementia differs from person to person.
If you notice your parent exhibiting a few of these symptoms, it might be time for you to bring him/her to see your family’s General Physician (GP).
Subsequently, as the GP sees fit, he/she may refer your loved one to 3 main group of specialists: a geriatrist, a neurologist or a psychiatrist. These specialists can then examine your parent’s physical and mental health and determine whether the symptoms result from dementia or other cognitive problems.