In the beginning, dementia can be hard to diagnose, especially because there are no medical symptoms for a doctor to see in the early signs – rather, it is the close friends and family who have to notice the small changes. When it’s our own loved one, we can often ignore the signs, or create excuses for them, not wanting to have to tell our senior loved one that they might have this dreaded disease. However, it is much easier for everyone to receive a dementia diagnosis early on, so your loved one and their family can make any necessary changes to prepare for dementia. Here are the early warning signs that you might be watching out for:
- Memory loss. It’s easy to ignore this one, but if your senior loved one is forgetting things that they would never in the past have forgotten, take note of it. Don’t jump to conclusions if they forget one thing, but if you notice a few occurrences and that the memory loss is becoming more frequent, it could be a sign.
- Vocabulary problems. If conversation becomes difficult, as if they suddenly can’t recall the word they want to say next.
- Lost in everyday tasks. If your loved one suddenly becomes lost or confused performing routine tasks in familiar environments, this could be dementia. For example, losing track while getting dressed or making a cup of tea, and not being able to complete the tasks.
- Difficulty budgeting. Working with numbers becomes too difficult with dementia, so it is often with the household budget that this symptom is first noticed. Look out for issues with monthly bills or regular shopping.
- Misplacing items. Simply losing your keys is something everyone does, but if they show up in strange places, it’s likely a sign of dementia.
- Personality changes. Individuals with dementia can often become apathetic, and other times short-tempered. If your loved one is acting different and also shows some other symptoms, it may be dementia.
If you believe your senior loved one may be developing dementia, going to the doctor sooner rather than later is the best course of action. It will also help a great deal to involve a third party who can apply an objective, medical view to your close relative. Dementia is a scary disease, but there is lots of support out there to help you.