Three early dementia signs that can be ‘mistaken for normal ageing’

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In the early stages, dementia symptoms can be hard to detect. The symptoms may even be misperceived as “normal ageing” because the changes are “so gradual”, stated the social care institute for excellence (SCIE).

People with dementia can often end up continuing for several years without knowing they have the condition.

It’s important to know the early signs as an early diagnosis can slow down the disease in some cases.

Another of the main benefits of early diagnosis is that the person with the condition and the family can learn about the disease and plan for the future.

Early memory problems

Early memory problems caused by dementia can be easily mixed up with other conditions.

Often this is because of a lack of awareness because there are subtle differences between normal memory loss and memory loss caused by dementia.

The SCIE explains that things such as “losing house or car keys” and “forgetting a name” are experienced as part of memory loss.

But the health body explains that memory loss caused by dementia doesn’t just cause you to forget these things but also what they’re for.

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It stated: “They may not just lose things (such as keys or remote controls) or misplace them in odd places, they may forget what they are for.”

Other memory problems which can be easily confused with normal ageing include forgetting to do straightforward household jobs and forgetting what they want to buy at the shops.

It added: “They may have difficulty remembering something they have just read or seen on the TV, in recognising familiar faces (such as the Prime Minister) or recalling recent events.”

Normal language difficulties versus dementia

People with dementia may also experience difficulty with words.

Everyone can forget the right word from time to time. But forgetting simple words “frequently” can be an early sign of dementia, according to the social care provider Elder.

It also explains that people with dementia may often swap the right word for a more unusual one.

SCIE also suggests that people may have difficulty picking up jokes, as well as the subtle meanings behind words.

Other symptoms of dementia can include recognition and coordination difficulties, disorientation and mood changes.

Mood changes

Most people go through periods of feeling withdrawn, or frustrated and angry.

However, people with dementia “can experience an absence of interest in or concern about emotional, social, spiritual, philosophical or physical life,” explained the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

SCIE emphasises that they may even be withdrawn from social activities and interests they enjoyed in the past.

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