Recognizing the Early Signs of Dementia in Someone You Love

early signs of dementia

Aging is inevitable, and many physical and mental changes can be expected. However, when we start to notice changes in a loved one’s mental acuity that may not be just age-related but could be indicative of a fundamental shift, it can be a disorienting experience for friends and family. 

The fading memory of our loved ones can be a cause for concern, and we must pay attention and try to understand what they are going through. Below, Peaceful Pines Senior Living shares the early signs of dementia.

The Onset of Dementia

Dementia isn’t a solitary disease but a group of symptoms that can include a serious loss of cognitive ability. The conditions encompassed by this term are often degenerative, meaning they grow worse over time. Alzheimer’s, the most common form, accounts for around 60-80% of dementia cases, with vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), and others making up the remainder.

Dementia is complex. Brain cells, or neurons, become damaged or cease to function effectively, unable to communicate with each other. The deterioration typically starts in an area of the brain involving learning and memory and affects communication among the entwined brain regions.

This cognitive decline alters brain function, leading to disturbances in thinking, speaking, mood, and behavior. The early stage of dementia, often overlooked as part of the normal aging process, is vital to recognize. Subtle changes hint at the greater storm to come, and it is these initial rumbles that caregivers and family members must discern.

Early Signs of Dementia to Watch For

The early signs are not uniform and can vary widely between individuals, and the form of dementia. However, certain signals, when occurring in conjunction or increasing in intensity, often prompt a deeper look. 

If you’re concerned about someone you love developing the early signs of dementia, here are some major symptoms to keep an eye out for: 

  • Memory Loss That Disrupts Typical Life: Everyone forgets a name or an appointment occasionally, but those experiencing dementia often forget such information and repeat themselves frequently.
  • Challenges in Planning and Solving Problems: Managing a monthly budget or following a familiar recipe may become increasingly difficult.
  • Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks: Daily tasks like driving to a known location or remembering the rules of a familiar game may become problematic.
  • Confusion with Time and Place: Individuals with dementia can lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time.
  • Trouble Understanding Visual Images and Spatial Relationships: Vision problems can be a significant early sign, as can struggles with reading, judging distance, and determining color or contrast.
  • Problems With Words in Speaking or Writing: Finding the right words becomes difficult and can result in strange word choices.
  • Misplacing Things and Losing the Ability to Retrace Steps: Anyone can lose a pair of glasses or a TV remote. A person with dementia may misplace these items in strange places and not be able to retrace their steps to find them.
  • Decreased or Poor Judgment: Personal hygiene can suffer as individuals may wear inappropriate clothing or neglect their self-care.
  • Withdrawal from Work, Social Engagements, and Hobbies: Significant personality changes, including social withdrawal, can indicate early cognitive changes.
  • Changes in Mood and Personality: Individuals may become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious.

By recognizing these potential indicators, one can begin to piece together the puzzle and ascertain the need for further evaluation. Professional medical assistance is vital at this stage for the correct diagnosis and the formulation of an action plan.

The Power of Early Intervention

Early intervention in dementia can lead to better management of symptoms and improved quality of life for the individual. It fosters an environment where care strategies are implemented to ensure comfort, safety, and a sense of purpose for the individual.

Peaceful Pines emphasizes the importance of understanding early signals and taking proactive steps. With carefully crafted daily routines, personalized cognitive exercises, and a supportive community, individuals at Peaceful Pines engage in a life enriched with meaning, regardless of the changes their cognition may undergo.

The Journey Forward

Caring for a person living with dementia is a challenging but ultimately rewarding experience. You are not alone—there are community resources, support groups, and empathetic professionals ready to assist. Peaceful Pines’ commitment is not just to the residents in our care but to the family members and friends who entrust their loved ones to their community.

Peaceful Pines strives to emphasize the importance of early detection and finding the right support for individuals and families alike. Throughout our memory care communities, we aim to help those living with dementia reach their goals, enjoy life’s simple pleasures, and continue their unique life stories. We invite you to contact our team to learn more about memory care at Peaceful Pines Senior Living.

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