Signs and Symptoms of Dementia

nurse or helper in residential home giving food to old senior man

January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month! We want to help build awareness about this increasingly important topic that will be one of the dominant health issues in the next 20 years, so this month, we are providing you with some information to help you stay informed about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Our next blog post will include some tips for caring for those with dementia so stay tuned for that as well!

What is dementia?
Dementia is a term that used to describe a collection of symptoms linked with the decline of memory or other cognitive skills caused by damage to brain cells which disrupts normal thinking. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. The second most common type is vascular dementia which typically occurs after strokes. Around 15% of Canadians 65 and older have some form of dementia.

Signs and Symptom of Dementia
A little bit of memory loss is common for everyone, so forgetting your keys once in a while is nothing to be concerned about. However, if you see some of the following signs repeatedly, you can decide if perhaps it’s time for you or your loved one to see a doctor.

Memory Loss
Short term memory loss is often one of the most noticeable signs of potential Alzheimer’s or dementia. A person with dementia may forget information immediately after they are told, or miss appointments.

Communication and language difficulty
Some people with dementia may have difficulty finding the right words or explaining themselves. They may also have a harder time following conversations and following TV show story lines.

Difficulty with Tasks
Another early sign of dementia may be difficulty with tasks that are routine to the individual such as finding their way home, balancing the check book or playing a card game.

Changes in mood or personality
Sometimes individuals with dementia can become apathetic and seem unlike themselves. Perhaps they’ve lost interest in a hobby, have sudden mood swings, or seem emotionally flat. Withdrawing from people is also a warning sign.

Reasoning and Judgment Impaired
A noticeable decrease in judgment such as personal hygiene, attire, or other aspects of life. Clothes may be are worn repeatedly day after day or chosen with no regard to the season or weather. Perhaps they may also show decreased judgment regarding financial matters.

Misplacing Things
Those with dementia may lose items frequently, and additionally may place items in strange places. Examples include clothing in the fridge, or cutlery in the bathroom.

Those with dementia may repeat daily tasks that they’ve already completed. Perhaps they are shaving a second time, or maybe they’re asking you a question you’ve already answered.

Though slight memory loss is normal when aging, more significant changes should be addressed by your doctor. The sooner you address it, the better chances you have to seek treatment and plan for the future.