Do you suspect that you or a family member may have dementia? Dementia is an umbrella term that describes a wide range of progressive neurological disorders affecting a person’s cognitive function. This includes forgetfulness, memory loss, limited social skills, impaired reasoning, difficulties in problem-solving, and more. If you or a parent has dementia—you’ll start to notice a variety of signs and symptoms. However, it’s important to note that experiencing memory loss doesn’t always equate to having dementia.
While short-term memory loss is an ordinary sign of dementia, it is also a normal component of aging. Prior to receiving a diagnosis for dementia, a neurologist will look for evidence of other types of symptoms to accompany memory loss such as impaired decision-making habits, issues with communication, difficulties with directions, and changes in mood or behavior. A person with dementia will experience multiple symptoms that will start to impede on their daily lives. Let’s take a deeper look at 10 ordinary early symptoms of dementia and ways to alleviate issues in your life.
Ordinary Signs & Symptoms of Dementia
A symptom of early onset dementia is the inability to communicate effectively with friends and acquaintances. You may find it challenging to express your thoughts, explain something, or simply find the right words. This hindrance will make conversations longer to conclude.
Variations in Mood
Early and late-stage dementia can cause mood and personality changes. Those with dementia may experience drastic personality variations such as transitioning from a shy to an outgoing personality. Depression can also be an early indicator of dementia. Though you may not be able to detect drastic mood swings with yourself, you may notice this early symptom of dementia with a family member.
Difficulty With Daily Tasks
Overtime with dementia, you may have difficulty finishing normal tasks such as paying bills, scheduling doctor appointments, feeding pets, and attending events with friends. This could start off with more complicated tasks and gradually lead to simpler ones. In addition, you may struggle to implement new routines and tasks.
Unable to Travel & Follow Directions
Losing a sense of direction is another early sign of dementia, and can make traveling very challenging. These symptoms of early onset dementia can include trouble recognizing familiar landmarks, being unable to follow instructions, forgetting street names, or having difficulties remembering where you’re traveling even if it’s close to home.
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Damage to Portions of the Brain That Control Bodily Behaviors
Although dementia affects the brain, you can experience physical symptoms as well. As the disease progresses, clusters will start to appear in areas of the brain that governs bodily behavior. In turn, this affects the way you walk, talk, move, and how your body functions.
If you or a parent have dementia, you’ll start to notice physical signs such as the following:
- Difficulty standing
- Loss of balance
- Stiff muscles
- Dragging feet while walking
- Loss of muscle tone
- Difficulty with bladder control
Unable to Write
Similar to the difficulty of conversing, an ordinary symptom of dementia includes difficulty writing with a pen or pencil. Your handwriting may become harder for your children or grandchildren to read. You may also experience an increase in grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors.
Everyone misplaces their keys or wallet every once in a while. However, a common early symptom of dementia includes continuously misplacing things in unusual places. They may also struggle to find missing items, such as a wallet, coat, purse, phone, shoes, newspaper, or bills. It is not bizarre for a family member with dementia to become suspicious of other people when they misplace their personal belongings. Your mother or father may ask if you have taken or thrown away items that have become lost.
Poor Decision-Making Skills
If you or a loved one has dementia, over time you’ll start to make poor judgments in regards to finances, work-related tasks, deadlines, household chores, and even simple functions such as physical hygiene.
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Difficulty With Money
The deterioration of sound decision making, reasoning, and memory often prompt financial challenges for you or your family member with dementia. This symptom usually occurs in the early stages of dementia. You may forget to pay bills, give money away to telemarketers or strangers, buy things without remembering why you got it, or can no longer keep track of spending.
Withdrawal From Projects & Social Events
The symptom of early onset dementia can make it difficult for your mother or father to participate in social events. This may cause your family member to gradually retract from normal hobbies and activities that once gave them joy and a sense of purpose.
What is Cognitive Stimulation Therapy?
Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) refers to the short-term intervention program for those living with mild to moderate dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This program can vary from small groups (CST) to individual therapy (iCST), and strives to reduce the symptoms of dementia by keeping individuals stimulated and socially engaged through a variety of themed activities.
Cognitive Stimulation Therapy Activities may include friendly singalongs to begin each session, comparing and contrasting childhood or early adulthood memories versus present day, reading and talking about current news articles, remembering celebrities’ names from an era that’s familiar to them, and more.
Cognitive Stimulation Therapy Benefits
Cognitive Stimulation Therapy typically happens in the comfort of a memory care community, treatment center, or hospital. Dementia caregivers can also conduct individual therapy sessions in your family members’ households. Cognitive Stimulation Therapy is believed to be, in some cases, just as effective as medication for dementia symptoms.
During the program, this form of dementia therapy has been shown to improve social engagement, communication, cognitive abilities, and the overall quality of life. In addition, Cognitive Stimulation Therapy not only improves the relationship of self but the relationship among family caregivers and patients as well. Please keep in mind that cognitive dementia therapy may help reduce the physical and mental symptoms of early onset dementia. However, this type of therapy is not a cure to dementia.
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5 Ordinary Issues That Cause Individuals With Dementia to Fall
As you get older, the risk of falling becomes more likely and more detrimental. But that’s not the only thing that increases your chances of falling. A frequent symptom of dementia includes a mind and body disconnect, which makes you more prone to falling. Let’s take a look at five common issues that cause individuals with dementia to fall.
You may become less active with age. Failure to participate in mild to moderate exercise on a regular basis can greatly speed up the physical effects of aging. This leads to reduced muscle strength and flexibility, loss of balance and coordination, decreased bone mass, and more.
Poor eyesight due to aging is one of the main causes of falling. When you have an age or dementia-related eye disease, a natural symptom includes failure to notice fall hazards such as thresholds, steps, or puddles. That’s why it’s important to adhere to a physician’s treatment recommendations such as using low vision equipment or wearing eyeglasses.
Side Effects of Medications
Many medications—such as sedatives, antidepressants, and antipsychotics—can increase the risk of falling for those with dementia. This typically stems from the side effects of your medication which include low blood pressure, drowsiness, and dizziness. Even over-the-counter medications can have strong side effects to be wary of.
Surgeries such as hip replacements may leave a dementia person vulnerable, uncomfortable, and less mobile than before. This in turn can increase the potential for falling if not given enough time to heal.
Behavioral Changes & Hazards
As dementia progresses, you may have to modify certain lifestyle activities to accommodate the symptoms of dementia such as laundry, driving, cooking, yard work, and more. Any activities that require physical demand may make you more prone to falling.
Make sure that you’re wearing secure, non-skid footwear when participating in activities such as navigating the stairs or sweeping the kitchen floor. You should also consider changing certain lifestyle habits to better accommodate your health and physical capabilities.
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Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care Programs Offered By Terra Vista
Your loved one’s medical needs are always the primary focus of our staff at our memory care facility and community. Rest assured that we have a professional nursing staff on-site that offer medical services to accommodate the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia 24 hours a day. The medical services at our dementia care assisted living facility in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois include assisting residents with medication management, monitoring blood glucose levels, administering insulin, and more. To help ensure your family member is healthy, our facility offers dental, therapy, psychiatry, and optometry services to residents. We have expert on-site physicians that are available to your mother or father to accommodate medical and physical ailments and problems.
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