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Recognizing the signs: understanding dementia

Whether you’re concerned for yourself or someone you care about, it's important to know the most common warning signs of dementia so you can ensure an early diagnosis.

Dementia is a condition that affects millions worldwide, impacting memory, cognition, and daily functioning. Recognizing the early signs of dementia is crucial for timely diagnosis and intervention.

As outlined by the Alzheimer's Society of Canada, understanding these warning signs can lead to better support and care for individuals and their families.

In this article, we'll delve into the ten common warning signs of dementia, shedding light on what to look for and why early recognition is essential.

  1. Memory Challenges: Forgetting important details or struggling to retain new information could indicate early signs of dementia. While occasional forgetfulness is normal, frequent memory lapses may require attention.

  2. Difficulty with Tasks: Struggling with familiar tasks like preparing meals or getting dressed might signal cognitive changes associated with dementia. This goes beyond occasional distractions and can impact daily routines.

  3. Language and Communication Changes: Difficulty finding words or using inappropriate substitutes during conversations could be indicative of cognitive decline. This can make communication challenging and lead to misunderstandings.

  4. Disorientation: Getting lost in familiar places or losing track of time and days can be early signs of dementia. It goes beyond momentary confusion and can affect one's ability to navigate their surroundings.

  5. Judgment Impairment: Changes in judgment that put health or safety at risk may indicate cognitive decline. This includes overlooking potential risks or making decisions that seem unusual or unsafe.

  6. Abstract Thinking Challenges: Difficulty understanding numbers, symbols, or abstract concepts can be a sign of cognitive impairment. This can impact financial management and problem-solving abilities.

  7. Misplacing Items: Putting items in unusual places or forgetting where they were placed is common in dementia. This goes beyond occasional forgetfulness and can lead to confusion and frustration.

  8. Mood and Personality Changes: Severe changes in mood, behaviour, or personality may indicate underlying cognitive issues. This includes rapid mood swings, withdrawal from social activities, or unusual behaviours.

  9. Loss of Initiative: Losing interest in previously enjoyed activities or social interactions can be a sign of cognitive decline. This goes beyond temporary disinterest and may require encouragement to engage in activities.

  10. Visual and Spatial Challenges: Difficulty with visual perception, depth perception, or spatial awareness can be associated with dementia. This can affect daily tasks like reading, navigating spaces, or handling objects.

Recognizing these signs early on allows for timely evaluation and support. If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, consulting a healthcare professional is recommended for proper assessment and guidance.