The Signs You Might Be Getting Dementia

By Juliet S 7 months ago

1. Decreased short-term memory 

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Struggling with memory can be an early sign of dementia. Often, this is linked to short-term memory and changes can be subtle. Somebody suffering with dementia might manage to recall events that happened years ago, but they will struggle to tell you what they had for lunch.Original content sourced from

2. Difficulty finding the right words

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A potential early sign of dementia can be finding it difficult to communicate thoughts. Somebody with dementia may struggle to explain something or find the right words to express what they're thinking. Sometimes, they will pause in the middle of a sentence, not knowing how to carry on. 

3. Changes in mood

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Changes in mood can be a possible sign with some dementia sufferers. It can be hard to spot this sign within yourself, but you could notice this switch in another person. An example of this in the early stages of dementia could be depression or low mood.

4. Apathy

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A potential early sign could be no longer feeling or expressing emotions the same as before. This may cause a person to feel indifferent in situations that they or others would usually react to. Because of this, they may no longer have interest in fun.

5. Difficulty completing tasks

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Small shifts in the ability to complete everyday tasks is another possible early warning sign of dementia. A lot of the time, you will first notice this change with harder tasks. For example, playing a game with a lot of rules or following a recipe.

6. Confusion

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A sign in the early stages of dementia can sometimes be confusion. People can become confused when they're trying to remember faces. Confusion can happen for different reasons and in different situations. Another example may be forgetting where they've put their keys, or what comes next in their routine. 

7. Difficulty following storylines

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Sometimes, people with early dementia can forget the meaning of some words whilst listening to a story. Because of this, they can find it difficult to follow storylines whilst they are watching TV, or even whilst they are participating in conversations.

8. Decline in sense of direction

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When a person has the onset of dementia, it can possibly worsen their sense of direction and spatial orientation. This may mean they struggle to recognise landmarks that used to be familiar to them, or forget the route to places which they have known all their lives.

9. Repetition

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There are different kinds of repetition to look out for when it comes to dementia. This can be due to memory loss. Some people with early dementia may keep asking the same questions or re-tell the same story. Whilst others can shower when they have already had one, or repeat other daily tasks.

10. Struggling to adapt to change

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Sometimes, when a person is in the early stages of dementia, they will experience more fear. All of a sudden, they struggle to remember people they've always known and live in confusion. Because of this, changes can be extremely difficult as it can throw them off even more. 

11. Poor judgment

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Another sign to look out for with dementia can be the lack of ability to make the right decisions. An example of this is somebody struggling to recognise harmful situations, like someone dressing themselves in shorts and a vest when it's snowing outside.

12. Problems with communication 

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Take notice a sudden struggle to participate in conversations like before, or if somebody is not able to follow the conversation. Sometimes, people with dementia will stop suddenly in the middle of a sentence, not able to find the words or the name of something.

13. Getting lost 

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Some people suffering with dementia can struggle with their spatial and visual abilities. This can therefore create issues such as getting lost whilst walking or driving. Another example could be misjudging the space and falling into or over objects.

14. Changes to personality

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It can potentially be a sign of dementia when a person has notable changes to their personality. For example, somebody may usually be very laid back and thick skinned, then suddenly become easily upset or angered. Others may begin feeling anxious, depressed, fearful or suspicious. 

15. Struggling with planning

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It can be common with dementia sufferers to struggle with creating and following plans, or working with numbers. Because of this, they may have difficulty cooking a meal they once knew the recipe for, or keeping on top of monthly bills. They can also find it hard to concentrate when others are trying to involve them in a plan.

16. Lack of interest

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It is normal to have times when somebody does not feel as social as they usually would. However, if there is an abrupt and unexplained lack of interest in a person's family, friends and other activities, this could possibly be a warning sign of dementia. 

17. Losing belongings

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Some people with dementia will put their belongings in strange and random places. They can then find it difficult recalling where they have put the items and can struggle to retrace their steps to locate them. Because of this, you may notice more lost belongings.

18. Confusion about time 

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Another potentially alarming sign to look out for is disorientation about time, such as forgetting what day of the week it is. In more extreme cases, they may confuse the past with the present. An example of this may be asking for their sister, when this person passed away years ago.

19. Confusion about place 

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Another change to look out for is somebody forgetting where they are or how they got there, as this could be a potential warning sign for dementia. In some cases, they may no longer recognize once familiar places, even if they are significant or have known them all their lives.

20. Neglecting hygiene

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Pay attention to any out of character decline in a person's personal hygiene. Some people suffering with dementia will have a clear, consistent change to their grooming and cleanliness. This can be due to them forgetting to wash, or struggling to follow their usual daily wash routine.

21. Difficulty handling money 

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In some cases, you may notice a person gradually appearing to have poor judgment or questionable choices when it comes to handling their finances. An example of this could be splashing out on luxuries they can't afford, or missing payments for their monthly bills. 

22. Visual troubles

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Dementia can cause visual problems in some people. This might mean somebody has difficulty differentiating between colors, or they could have an unusual lack of balance. Others may have problems reading, or even have visual issues when they are driving.

23. Struggling with words when speaking or writing

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As mentioned earlier, people living with Dementia can have trouble following or joining a conversation. A cause of this is struggling to understand vocabulary others use. They may also use incorrect terms, for example, calling a "mug" a "drink-holder"

24. Withdrawal from work or social activities

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Due to the struggle with making and following conversation, you may notice an individual with dementia choosing more and more to pull out of social events that they once enjoyed. Another possible reason may be trouble keeping up with the activity, such as watching a football match.

25. Saying inappropriate things

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Sometimes, people suffering dementia can appear to have 'no filter' when they're speaking to others. This is because dementia can affect someone's inhibitions. They might no longer care for social rules and can rebel against the behavior expected of them.

26. Weight changes

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There are a couple of aspects linking weight change to dementia. An obvious reason is simply forgetting to eat or struggling to make meals. Another is down to burning more calories. Dementia can cause a person to pace more frequently or wander around.

27. Changes to physical appearance

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If you suspect early onset of dementia, then be sure to keep an eye out for any significant or consistent changes to a person's physical appearance. For example, someone who once took great pride in their appearance suddenly starting to go out in dirty or creased clothing. 

28. Changes to sleeping pattern

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In some cases, strange sleeping habits can be an early sign of dementia. Some suffering with dementia will wake up frequently at night, others may suddenly start to nap during the day. However, there can of course be other reasons for changes to somebody's usual sleeping pattern.

29. Taking sarcasm literally

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Some people with dementia can struggle to tell when a person is telling a lie, even when this would usually be obvious. Because of this, they can sometimes misinterpret a person's sarcasm as a genuine statement, so will take the statement literally.

30. Falling more frequently

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As people age, it's not uncommon to have occasional falls. However, frequent falling may be a warning sign of early dementia.  This is down to dementia causing problems with mobility, strength and balance. They can also have trouble finding their way around, which can lead to falling. 

31. Helpful Tips For Supporting Someone With Dementia: Be Patient

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This can be difficult when the situation is often frustrating for everyone involved, but patience is key. When talking to a person with dementia, show them that you're listening and that you're not in any rush. Don't try to interrupt if you get tired of waiting, and wait until they've managed to say what they want to say.

32. Offer Reassurance As Often As You Can

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It can be difficult and confusing for someone with dementia, which is why reassurance from loved ones is going to make all the difference. Reassure them as often as you can, and especially in busy social situations like family gatherings, where you can make sure they're involved in the conversation.

33. Don't Discourage Them From Speaking

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If they're taking their time to get out their thoughts and express themselves, it can be easy to just dismiss it and move on if they're not saying what they want to say. If they're trying to communicate and having trouble with it, make sure to encourage them to carry on and try and say what they need.

34. Try Not To Criticize Or Correct Them

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If they've said something that sounds silly, wrong or ridiculous, you might feel like you want to tell them they're wrong, to stop saying things like that or jumping to correct them on what they've said. Instead, try to understand why they've said what they've said, and think maybe they meant to say something else. If it sounds wrong, ask for more details.

35. Don't Be Tempted To Argue - Just Let It Go

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At the end of the day, a person developing dementia isn't going to be able to be argued with or reasoned with when they've said something you don't agree with. There's just no point, as they can't change their way of thinking. You'll waste your own energy whilst also making them anxious or frustrated if you argue with them.

36. Make Guesses To Help Them Along

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Although you shouldn't interrupt or try to correct them, you can still try to help them along by making guesses at what they're trying to say. If they can't think of a word but you have some idea of what they're trying to say, you could make some suggestions. If they look like they're getting frustrated with all your suggestions, though, stop!

37. Make Them Know They Don't Have To Talk - They Can Gesture Instead

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Talking can be very frustrating when you can't find the words, so why not help them use gestures instead? You can ask them to point or make a certain gesture if they're trying to explain something, or ask you for something. You could even get some picture cards if that helps them to point at them.

38. Make Them A Quiet Place

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If they're still living at home, then make sure it's as peaceful and clutter-free as possible. Distractions and crowded rooms can easily make them overwhelmed or give them sensory overload, which won't help. So you might want to help them create a minimalist space without a lot of distractions.

39. Emotions Are Actually More Important Than Facts

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When someone with dementia is trying to communicate and finding it difficult, you might be focused on getting down to the facts and finding the right words. But actually focusing on their emotions is more important, as this can be helpful if you need to know whether they're trying to tell you they're scared of something, sad or happy about something.

40. Keep It Short And Sweet With Words!

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You don't want to start trying to speak a Shakespearian monologue when your loved one is confused. It's much better to use simple and easy-to-understand words, direct questions and short sentences. Try not to ask more than one thing at once before waiting for an answer. Try to be as short and clear as possible!

41. Speaking Slowly Helps, Too

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If you're trying to be clear and direct, it always helps to speak slowly, too! You might feel bad speaking this way as it can seem a little condescending, but it actually really helps to speak to them as though you were explaining something slowly and simply to a child. Having a lower and calming tone will help, too.

42. Don't Expect Them To Reply Straight Away

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In a normal conversation, you wouldn't expect a long silence while waiting for a response, but with someone with dementia, it's usually the case. Even when you're speaking slowly and clearly, they still need time to process what you've said, as well as needing to think of their own response and what they want to say.

43. But It's Okay To Ask The Question Again

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If the silence is going on too long and they're looking confused, it's okay (and might be helpful) to ask the question again. You might need to repeat it more slowly, or even shorten the question so it's more clear in case they didn't understand what you were saying the first time. Make sure to give them time before you ask the question again, though.

44. If They're Really Confused, You Can Give Statements Rather Than Questions

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If you know that your loved one hasn't eaten for a bit, or is probably due to go to the bathroom, and they're trying to communicate something to you, you might be able to guess what it is they're trying to say. Instead of prompting them with, 'Do you need a drink?' or other questions, you could just give helpful statements like, 'There's a drink on the table there,' or 'the bathroom is free'.

45. Fight Against Your Instincts To Use Euphemisms Or Idioms

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This one can be really difficult, because we all have it embedded in us to say things we're used to saying, like 'Break a leg!' to say good luck, or saying you're 'over the moon' about something. But language like this is going to be confusing to someone with dementia, and they might take things literally, too. So be very specific and literal!

46. Use Positive Language

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You want to keep up a positive, clear and easy outlook on everything you're saying, which also avoids conflict. So instead of telling them not to do something, or saying no, say something more positive like 'let's do this instead' or 'I think maybe this is a better idea' instead of telling them they're wrong.

47. Point To And Touch Things When Trying To Explain Something

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As well as gestures and visual clues being helpful for them when trying to explain their feelings, it can also be helpful for them to see you doing the same. Pointing to something physical or gesturing to something during tasks or conversations can help them to understand without needing to use too many words.

48. Don't Be Tempted To Test Their Memory

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When dementia comes on, it can be really tempting to try and 'test' their memory to see how their memory is doing today, or to see regularly whether it's got worse. It's not a good thing to constantly be asking them what they remember, though, or prompting memories like, 'Do you remember when I was little and we went to...' etc. Because this can just cause frustration when they don't know what you're talking about.

49. Make Short Notes

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This can be really helpful for them if you constantly write things down for them - but make sure it's short and simple! Sticky notes can be a great idea if there's something simple you can bullet-point down and put the sticky note somewhere around the house. Writing things down that they most struggle with can be more helpful!

50. Don't Act Like They Aren't There

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This one can be difficult in busy social situations because if they're struggling to remember things or verbalise in conversation, it can be easy to turn to someone else and leave them to it, which can make them feel like they're being ignored. Try to involve them as much as you can, even if it's non-verbal like constantly looking at them, smiling at them and standing close while talking to someone else.