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Early signs of Dementia
October 9, 2015
According to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 747,000 Canadians were living with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia in 2011. That number is expected to increase to 1.4 million by 2031; however, there are steps that can be taken to detect dementia early and ensure the best possible care for your loved one.
Benefits of early detection
The Alzheimer Society of Canada stresses the importance of early detection for Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Treatment for dementia is most effective when started early in the course of the disease. Spotting symptoms as soon as possible will lead to a more accurate diagnosis, as fewer complications will have arisen, and a senior in the early stages of dementia is also better able to make decisions about his or her treatment and memory care options.
Early signs of dementia
Below are a list of symptoms that will help you determine if your loved one is experiencing more than normal memory loss, provided by the Alzheimer's Association:
Disruptive memory loss. Forgetting important events, appointments or common tasks can be a sign of dementia. This refers specifically to forgetfulness that makes day-to-day living difficult or that persists for long periods of time. People with severe memory problems may have problems performing familiar activities like making a grocery list or cooking.
Confusion over place and time. It's common for seniors to lose track of the date or forget why they came into a certain room, but sometimes that nuisance can develop into confusion over when significant events happened or a chronic inability to remember what time, day or even year it is. People with dementia may find themselves somewhere unfamiliar with no knowledge of how they got there or where they are.
Trouble communicating. Struggling excessively to recall words can be a sign of dementia if it's severe enough. Rather than occasionally forgetting words or getting lost in a conversation, people with dementia can become completely unaware of what a conversation is about or lose significant portions of their vocabulary.
Altered behavior and mood. Major changes in interaction with the world may present themselves in people with dementia. Depression, irritability and suspicion are common symptoms of dementia, especially when dealing with new people or places. Because of these changes, some people withdraw from activities they used to enjoy or need to do regularly. A person with dementia may give up favourite hobbies, stop interacting with friends and family or avoid obligations like shopping or visiting the doctor.
According to the National Institute on Aging, some new diagnostics are showing promise. Memory tests and brain imaging systems are always improving, allowing earlier and more accurate diagnoses. Researchers are even making progress on a way to detect Alzheimer's disease in the blood. Until these methods become available, the best way to ensure early detection is to stay vigilant.