Dementia is a brain disease that causes a gradual decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning. It affects many elderly people, but is not considered a normal part of the aging process. Learn to recognize the early signs of dementia in your loved ones and how you can adapt to lifestyle changes that follow the condition’s onset.
What Are Early Signs of Dementia?
Disruptive memory loss
A common early sign of dementia is short-term memory loss, such as forgetting recently learned information. People with dementia might have trouble remembering important dates or find it challenging to keep appointments. Asking for the same information many times or reliance on memory aids, such as calendars, are also early signs of dementia.
Those with dementia often exhibit poor judgment in grooming, money management, and general decision making. One early sign of dementia is having an uncharacteristically disheveled appearance. Additionally, dementia sufferers might be more inclined to make questionable choices, such as giving large sums to telemarketers or overspending.
Apathetic or withdrawn behavior
Withdrawal from social activity or disinterest in favorite hobbies can also indicate dementia. People with dementia may lack excitement and desire to engage in activities, tasks, or conversation.
Difficulty completing familiar tasks
Tasks such as driving to a familiar location might become difficult for your loved one with dementia. Repeating a task many times is another early sign. For example, cleaning the same mug over and over again.
Trouble engaging in conversation
Conversation can be a struggle for those with dementia. Your loved one might have trouble remembering words or following a storyline. An early sign of dementia is trouble joining or following a conversation.
Frequently misplacing things
People with dementia might put things in unusual places or accuse others of stealing from them.
Changes in mood or personality
Those with dementia might express feelings of anxiety, depression, confusion, or suspicion. An early sign of dementia is being easily upset or showing noticeable changes in personality.
Difficulty with planning
Activities, such as planning a meal, following a recipe, or paying bills, can become challenging for dementia sufferers. Another early sign of dementia is difficulty concentrating on tasks and following through with them.
Difficulty understanding visuals
Those with dementia may find spatial and visual activities, such as reading, judging distance, and determining contrasting colors, difficult.
Confusion regarding time and place
Dementia patients may lose track of the time and date easily, making following directions or understanding something not happening immediately challenging.
How to Adapt When Your Loved One Shows Dementia Symptoms:
While there aren’t treatments that can stop or significantly slow the progress of dementia, there are things you can do to help your loved one life feel more comfortable.
What you can do in the home:
Decorate with contrasting colors
People with dementia may find it easier to find door handles, handrails, and specific furniture pieces or objects when colors in a room are contrastive.
Place photos around the room
Keeping photos out in the home of dementia sufferers can aid in jogging memory.
Hang up clocks and calendars
An early sign of dementia is difficulty keeping track of time. Large, easy-to-read calendars and clocks can help those with dementia remember the date and time.
Labeling cabinets and drawers with pictures of the contents inside can be helpful for dementia sufferers moving around the home. Adding visual depictions of how to do daily tasks, such as making a cup of coffee or using the microwave, can help those with dementia maintain independence and feel confident in their abilities.
Make reminder boards
Help your loved one remember appointments, important dates, and things to do by posting reminders in highly visible areas of the home.
Install safety measures
Consider installing safety measures like handrails to aid in the mobility of people with dementia. You can encourage or discourage behaviors by putting objects that could be harmful to your loved one out of sight.
Helpful activities for people with dementia:
Spend time outdoors
Spending time in nature has been proven to have a positive effect on emotions of those with dementia. Taking walks around circular paths can ensure that your loved one is steered back to a common entrance and exit.
Make some things, such as books, knitting, puzzles, or painting, more visible in the home to encourage continuation of hobbies.
How to navigate your relationship with your loved one:
Engage in conversation
While conversation might not come as easily, engaging dementia sufferers in discussion can help jog memory and promote positive emotions. Visit your loved one often to check in and catch up.
Put yourself in their shoes
Dementia can be hard on both the sufferer and their loved ones. As you care for your loved one, remember to treat them with compassion, care, love and patience.