Spotting the Warning Signs of Dementia

While dementia mostly affects older people, it isn’t a normal part of aging. Rather than a specific disease, the term dementia describes a set of cognitive symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to perform normal daily activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common condition associated with dementia. 

It can be worrisome if you suspect a loved one has dementia. Here at Premier Neurology Medical Group, we’re your first stop on the road to getting answers for you and your family.

Dementia 101

Dementia is the loss of cognitive abilities. These functions include thinking, remembering, reasoning, problem solving, focus, attention, and language skills. Some people with dementia also exhibit behavioral changes, such as problems controlling their emotions, and sometimes their personalities change.

Causes of dementia

Dementia results from a gradual loss of healthy nerve cells in the brain. As you age, a loss of neurons is normal. However, people with dementia experience a more significant neuronal loss. In older adults, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Various neurodegenerative diseases contribute to symptoms of dementia.

Other types of dementia include:

It is possible to have a combination of two or more types of dementia, known as mixed dementia. Other medical conditions can cause dementia-like symptoms. 

Here we discuss early warning signs that your loved one may be experiencing cognitive decline. 

Memory loss

As people age, forgetfulness every now and then is normal. However, changes in memory are one of the most common early signs of dementia. If your loved one is forgetting important dates, forgetting things they used to know, or asking for the same information repeatedly, it’s a sign that you need to come in to see Dr. Singh.

Changes in planning and problem-solving ability

Problems with planning and problem solving is another warning sign in the earlier stages of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Your loved one may have trouble following a familiar recipe or planning a family vacation. They may have a hard time concentrating and as a result may take longer to complete tasks.

Challenges completing daily tasks

Independence is particularly important for older adults, and the ability to carry out daily tasks is vital to quality of life. Because dementia affects thinking, problems with performing daily tasks is a common early sign. Is your loved one having challenges balancing their checkbook, paying bills on time, and getting to important appointments? These could be signs of abnormal cognitive decline.

Confusion

Sudden bouts of confusion are a sign that something is amiss. People with dementia may suddenly forget where they were driving or forget how to get to a familiar location. They can forget what they were doing, and even forget what day or season it is. Their perception of time may change. They may feel as if large chunks of time during their day are suddenly missing and find it difficult to recall what they did during their day.

Language problems

Problems speaking or writing are cause for concern and should be promptly evaluated by a neurologist. Your loved one may stop in the middle of a conversation and forget what they were saying, or they may repeat themselves. People with cognitive decline often have trouble following conversations. Your loved one may struggle with vocabulary and struggle to find the right words.

Misplacing things

Once you reach age 60, forgetting where you put your keys once in a while is common. However, if your loved one is regularly misplacing things, or putting things in strange places, it’s a warning sign that you need to visit a neurologist. It’s not uncommon for people with dementia to misplace an item and then accuse family or friends around them of taking it.

Diagnosing dementia

It’s time to see a doctor if you notice any of these signs in your loved one. At Premier Neurology Group, top-quality neurologist Dr. Ravinder Singh and his team of physician assistants can help you get the answers to your loved one’s symptoms.

Diagnosing dementia involves a comprehensive set of exams, including brain scans and cognitive function tests. If you notice early warning signs of cognitive trouble, schedule an appointment with Dr. Singh by calling our office or using our convenient online scheduling tool.

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