Little confidence in yourself could be an early sign of dementia

Frontotemporal dementia symptoms include 'changes in personality'

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“Changes in behaviour” could signal Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. Vandelli says losing confidence, for example, might make a person withdraw from their usual social engagements. Becoming uninterested in activities that once lit you up could be a sign of the brain-altering condition.

“As the condition worsens, you can find it difficult to plan and make decisions,” said Vandelli.

People affected by Alzheimer’s could “easily become confused and become anxious”.

“Understandably, these changes in feelings and behaviour can cause a lot of distress for a person and can put them at greater risk of depression,” Vandelli stated.

Other signs to watch out for include:

  • Difficulty remembering times and dates
  • Difficulty taking in new information
  • Forgetting the names of familiar faces and places
  • Struggling to find the right words.

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“It’s important to remember that no two people will experience dementia in exactly the same way,” said Vandelli.

“In Alzheimer’s, abnormal proteins in the brain damage the cells and over time these start to die. The early symptoms are often memory lapses.”

There are other forms of dementia, such as:

  • Vascular dementia
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies
  • Frontotemporal dementia.

Vandelli stated: “Alzheimer’s is the most commonly diagnosed type of dementia in the UK.

“The second most common type is vascular dementia, where the brain is damaged when the blood supply to it is reduced.”

Vandelli added: “This may happen after a stroke or mini-stroke. Symptoms of vascular dementia can get worse in big or small steps.”

Signs of vascular dementia, as pointed out by the NHS:

  • Slowness of thought
  • Difficulty with planning
  • Trouble with understanding
  • Problems with concentration
  • Changes to your mood or behaviour
  • Problems with memory and language (but these are not as common as they are in people with Alzheimer’s disease).

Later signs of vascular dementia could include:

  • Significant slowness of thought
  • Feeling disorientated and confused
  • Memory loss and difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty finding the right words
  • Severe personality changes, such as becoming aggressive
  • Depression, mood swings and lack of interest or enthusiasm
  • Finding it difficult to walk and keep balance, with frequent falls
  • Loss of bladder control (incontinence)
  • Increasing difficulty with daily activities.

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As for dementia with Lewy bodies, the third most common type of dementia is “caused by proteins building up in nerve cells”.

The condition could “also cause movement problems similar to Parkinson’s disease”.

Signs of dementia with Lewy bodies, as noted by the NHS:

  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion or sleepiness
  • Slow movement, stiff limbs and tremors
  • Fainting, unsteadiness and falls.

Vandelli said: “Frontotemporal dementia is mostly diagnosed between the ages of 45 to 65, though people can get it earlier or later in life.

“It’s a group of conditions that cause cells to die in specific parts of the brain.

“There are broadly two types of frontotemporal dementia, which usually start with changes to behaviour and personality and emotional control, and/or problems with language.”

Signs of frontotemporal dementia, according to the NHS:

  • Memory problems
  • Easily distracted
  • Struggle with planning and organisation
  • Speaking slowly, struggling to make the right sounds when speaking
  • Getting words in the wrong order.

Fran Vandelli is the Dementia Lead at Bupa Care Services.

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