Understanding Alzheimer’s & Dementia
Dementia is a blanket term that encompasses various forms of progressive diseases that affect an individual’s cognitive functioning, referring mainly to memory, judgment, reasoning, and thinking skills. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia progress over time, so it is important to be mindful of common signs and seek medical attention during the early stages to prevent or delay this progression.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of dementia cases, but other conditions under the “dementia umbrella” include:
5 Common Early Signs of Dementia
While Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect every person differently, many common symptoms are associated with these memory impairing conditions. If one or more of the following symptoms are affecting your loved one’s daily life, it could be a sign of the onset of dementia.
1. Memory Loss
Memory loss is one of the most common signs of dementia. While we all forget something once in a while, memory loss becomes a concern when it happens so often that it affects daily life and the ability to function normally.
2. Confusion with Time or Place
Individuals living with a form of dementia often get confused with time and place. For example, they may think that they are living in a year that has long ago passed or not recognize their surroundings when they are in a familiar place.
3. Trouble Completing Familiar Tasks
Routines and completing daily, weekly, or monthly tasks is something we are all accustomed to, but if an individual has trouble following their normal routine or completing a familiar task, such as using their television, this may be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
4. Inability to Plan or Solve Problems
Similar to having trouble completing a familiar task, dementia affects an individual’s ability to plan and solve problems. It can be hard for individuals to stay focused on a problem long enough to resolve it. And, because the concept of passing time is confusing, making plans becomes increasingly more difficult.
5. Trouble with Speaking and Writing
Due to an inability to focus and problems with memory, dementia may make it more difficult to hold a conversation. Speaking with someone requires an individual to remember the current topic and what has previously been mentioned as well as formulate an appropriate response. Individuals living with dementia may have trouble finding the right word, suddenly stop speaking in the middle of a sentence, or repeat the same phrase or question multiple times during the same conversation.
If your loved one is experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is recommended that you speak with a healthcare provider.