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August 2, 2022

Understanding Dementia – Signs & Symptoms


Knowledge is power, and obtaining knowledge about dementia at any stage, particularly during the early stages, can make it all the more powerful.  In the case of early detection, it can mean early intervention and early protection. Getting an early diagnosis can help individuals and families to be proactive and gain more control over their lives.

Many are often afraid of what the doctor may discover if they do go for a check up, however delaying the investigation may actually make matters worse. As we already are aware, there are some types of dementia’s that are treatable; in fact, reversible. Obtaining a proper diagnosis will help to properly deal with the situation.  Knowing can also assist with:

  • Gaining insight and education on the condition
  • Exploring treatment options
  • Creating plans for the future
  • Developing support networks

Although receiving a diagnosis of dementia can be difficult, many individuals and families experience relief of knowing the reason for the symptoms they are experiencing.

The Most Commonly Observed Signs/Symptoms of Dementia

Below is a list of the most common symptoms that are often exhibited in earlier stages.

Changes in Memory

Normal” is when a person temporarily forgets where they placed their keys or cell phone for a few minutes. However, if someone frequently misplaces things and this becomes a daily occurrence, then this is something we should pay attention to. Other examples include repeating questions or regularly forgetting to take medications.

Changes in Thinking

Disorientation and/or not knowing how to go to a place one is familiar with; inability to perform a routine they normally do; or having difficulties recalling the day of the week are all examples of changes in one’s thinking abilities. An example is when a person is trying to make their yummy apple pie but are having difficulties with following the steps involved.

Changes in Judgment

Saying or doing things that are inappropriate in public or to a random person or making decisions or taking actions that can put themselves, or another, in harm’s way. For example, trying to stand on a chair that has wheels in order to reach for something.

Changes in Communication

Changes in communication abilities can range for each person. Some people may have difficulties not recognizing words or using words in a conversation that don’t fit or make sense. For example, using the word “kitchen” when what the person is actually trying to say is that they are hungry. There could also be difficulties with comprehending the words spoken to them.

Changes in Personality

Mood swings or showing extreme emotions or exhibiting attitude and behaviours not normally characteristic of the person is common. For example, when a person used to be very patient with others but is now very impatient.

Any combination of the above are important signs/symptoms of dementia that we should not ignore nor delay in seeking medical attention. Early diagnosis and “treatment”/”management” is still the best way that both care-giver and care-receiver can maintain optimum quality of life.

If you suspect that you or someone you care about is exhibiting symptoms of dementia, start by speaking with a family doctor. You can also seek education and support from organizations like the Alzheimer Society of B.C., Family Caregivers of B.C. or even smaller personalized businesses like Dementia Solutions. There is help available. You do not have to journey alone.

 

Karen Tyrell CPCA, CDCP is a Dementia Consultant, Educator, Author & Advocate, and Founder of Personalized Dementia Solutions Inc. (www.DementiaSolutions.ca). Karen offers her expertise on dementia care through speaking engagements, workshops, support groups and by working one-on-one with families and caregivers to provide emotional support and practical solutions.

DISCLAIMER:

The contents of this blog are provided for information purposes only. They are not intended to replace clinical diagnosis or medical advice from a health professional. For any health-related issue, always seek medical advice first from a trained medical professional.