The early stages of dementia are often challenging to spot. This is especially true because symptoms like confusion and memory loss may be subtle or may fluctuate with periods of behaving normally.
It’s common to experience some memory changes with age, but symptoms that interfere with daily life may be a sign of something more serious like dementia. If you or a loved one spots early warning signs of cognitive issues, a neurology professional is the best source for getting answers.
Our team at Premier Neurology Medical Group in Beverly Hills, California, provides specialized care for Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders. Our team works closely with patients and families to provide comprehensive evaluation and accurate diagnosis of neurological issues.
An estimated 6.5 million Americans are living with dementia. Being aware of the early signs means getting the necessary help sooner. Let’s discuss some of the early changes to look out for.
Problems with cognition and memory aren’t always the early signs of dementia. Sometimes loved ones notice a change in personality. Patients with dementia commonly behave in ways that are different from how they normally act and family and friends are usually the first to notice these changes.
In dementia, various parts of the brain lose neurons. The personality changes people with dementia experience depend on which part of the brain is losing cells.
The frontal lobes, for example, are the area of the brain directly behind the eyes that governs our ability to focus, pay attention, be motivated, and other aspects of personality. As a result, when cells in the frontal lobes of the brain are lost, people lose their ability to plan and focus. They frequently lose motivation and become more passive. Our impulses are also controlled by the frontal lobes.
Because the frontal lobes govern impulse control, people with dementia who are losing neurons in the frontal lobe may start behaving rudely or in an insensitive manner. They may say or do things that are out of the ordinary for them.
Someone who is normally calm and optimistic, may become easily agitated and frustrated, or develop a pessimistic outlook.
Medical issues, such as urinary tract infections, can also cause behavioral changes. A loved one with dementia may experience pain but be unable to explain it and react with anger instead.
Memory loss is often the earliest sign of dementia. A loved one with dementia may forget important dates or events, or repeat a question that you have already answered. In the early stages, dementia can cause problems retaining new information. This can cause a struggle to learn new things.
This symptom may also manifest as difficulty remembering where things are put. People with dementia may also forget what they’re saying mid-sentence.
This learning impairment symptom can occur infrequently. One day your loved one may struggle to learn new information such as names, and the next day they may seem to learn new information without a problem.
It may occur out of nowhere, or memory problems may become apparent after elevated stress or anxiety. In the beginning memory issues may be mild, but it’s important not to overlook them.
Struggling to complete everyday tasks that we normally perform without thinking is commonly an early warning sign of cognitive issues like dementia. You or your loved one may suddenly have problems preparing a familiar meal or folding clothes.
Dementia may cause you to have trouble remembering how to get dressed, run the dishwasher, or put away groceries. These are everyday tasks that we normally perform without thinking.
Even subtle changes in judgment are something to watch out for in the early stages of dementia. This may include things like standing too close to the curb when waiting to cross the street, wearing light clothing outside when the weather is cold, or placing a very large portion of food on a plate.
Sometimes, changes in judgment occur before other signs like memory loss. Poor judgment is more complicated than simply making a bad decision. Rather, there’s a consistent pattern of struggling to make appropriate decisions.
Other examples include, inability to recognize when medical attention is needed, problems monitoring finances, and inappropriate social interactions.
These are major indicators of impaired judgment.
To schedule a visit with us at Premier Neurology, get started today by calling 310-382-1056 and a helpful member of our team will assist you. Another option is to submit your booking request online. The Premier Neurology team is by your side and devoted to helping improve the lives of those living with dementia.