Early Signs of Dementia Checklist

Feb 1, 2015

Dementia is not a new phenomenon. The history of dementia likely dates back as far as humankind. Caused by a multitude of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, DLB (Dementia with Lewy bodies) or other conditions, “dementia” is a broad term that describes a decline of mental capabilities. Fortunately, recent medical advances have brought us a better understanding of dementia, which we use at Group Homes Australia to provide our unique type of dementia care.

What to Look Out For

Are you constantly forgetting things, like where you hung your coat, or how to drive to the post office? A certain degree of forgetfulness is perfectly normal, and everybody has tales about the times they completely forgot an appointment or an address. Yet when these episodes happen with increasing frequency, you may become concerned that you’re developing dementia. So, how can you differentiate between normal memory lapses versus episodes of memory loss that may point to dementia?
While dementia typically emerges as a difficulty with remembering recent events, the early warning signs of dementia are quite subtle and vary greatly with each individual. To help you out, we’ve put together a checklist which identifies early signs of dementia:
1. Short-term memory changes
Are you repeating yourself all of the time? Are your friends telling you that you just asked that question a moment ago? Even frequently losing track of a conversation while you are mid-sentence may indicate dementia.
2. Trouble with daily tasks
Has it become tricky to follow recipes and make a full meal? If you were always an expert in the kitchen but are now getting confused by all the preparation and cooking steps, dementia may be to blame. Even numbers may lose their meaning to you, and you won’t be able to figure out the measurements.
3. Difficulty finding the right words
Everyone has to pause sometimes to locate the right word or expression. Yet with dementia, you may forget simple words or use totally inappropriate expressions. You may discover that communication is a whole new challenge.
4. Mood changes
In the past, you were able to bounce back with optimism after failing at something, but now you are responding with extreme irritation. You may experience rapid mood swings, or perhaps you find yourself feeling apathetic about things you used to care about. Even your longstanding hobbies or good friends don’t interest you. These are all symptoms that could be caused by early dementia.
5. Failing sense of direction and/or poor judgement of distance
You’ve driven to your friend’s home via the same route for years. Yet suddenly you are confused; you cannot find your bearings and do not recall which way to turn. Disorientation that is caused by dementia is more alarming than the normal occurrence of getting lost. You may also find it hard to judge distances, especially when driving.
6. General confusion
It’s normal to wake up some mornings and take a second to figure out what day it is. But if you keep forgetting what day it is – even as the hours pass by, it is abnormal. Another red flag is if you are on the way somewhere and can’t remember your destination.
7. Misplacing objects
Running frantically around your home to locate your keys is a common, normal behavior for many people! But if you find your keys in the freezer or dishwasher, and not in a pocket or drawer, pay heed. Putting things in inappropriate places could be a warning sign of early dementia.

What to Do Next

If you are experiencing some of the symptoms described above on our early warning signs checklist, it’s worthwhile to visit your medical practitioner with your questions. Only a qualified doctor or specialist can make a valid diagnosis. Note that when dementia is detected early on, its progression can often be slowed with new medications.
If you are diagnosed with dementia, it’s important to seek proper support immediately. This is the best way to help you manage and maintain your independence and quality of life as long as possible. At Group Homes Australia, we are proud to offer a new, supportive approach to dementia care. We invite you to learn more about how we do dementia care differently.


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