Red Flags for Dementia – Do You Have Any?
“I’m having a senior moment.”That used to be a funny thing to say when you misplaced your keys, went into a room and forgot why, or couldn’t find quite the right words to express yourself.
Your little memory lapses could always be explained away: You just had too much on your mind at the time. Or you were trying to multi-task. Or “Oh, it wasn’t that important anyway.”
But just as dementia is no joke, and you should be able to recognize behaviors that may indicate cognitive impairment. You should not ignore them or try to “explained them away.”
Don’t Live in Denial
If you or someone you love starts to become forgetful enough that it’s disrupting daily life, find out what’s happening. Consult a medical professional – the sooner the better.
If your symptoms are truly signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you may be able to take steps to slow its progress and lessen its effects, rather than living in denial.
Everyone is Different
The signs of early-onset dementia might begin as early as age 45, or much later…or never. It will progress more slowly in some people than others. It will affect everyone differently. But if you notice any of its possible symptoms in the list below, don’t wait – see a doctor.
9 Warning Signs
1. Memory lapses are the most common symptom of impending dementia. You may repeatedly ask the same questions, forget a very recent event, start missing appointments or milestone dates (like anniversaries or birthdays), rely on reminder notes more and more. Red flags!
2. Trouble with numbers, including being less able to follow a familiar recipe, or taking longer to pay bills and balance your checkbook.
3. A harder time completing routine tasks like driving to a familiar location, setting a microwave timer or recording a television show.
4. Confusion about time, days of the week and dates, or eroding mindfulness: not remembering where you are and how you got there.
5. Deteriorating vision, including more difficulty with reading, determining colors or judging distances.
6. Difficulty with vocabulary, like having trouble recognizing familiar words, speaking or writing normally, repeating yourself, or describing common things incorrectly (for example, calling a piano a “music box”).
7. Increasingly poor judgment, such as paying way too much for items of questionable value, or losing interest in your personal appearance, cleanliness and health.
8. Decreasing interest in things that used to be enjoyable, like hobbies, sports, family time, and socializing.
9. Mood and personality changes that are “not like you.” Confusion, depression and anxiety, fear, frustration, anger and other traits are becoming more common.
Some of the signs listed here may have physical causes due to the natural again process. For example, cataracts may explain your deteriorating vision, losing interest in social activities could be chalked up to back pain that’s getting worse, and so on.
But to be sure about what’s causing any dementia warning signs. See your doctor as soon as possible after you, family members or friends start to notice problems.