Early Symptoms of Dementia: How to Detect Them

09 February, 2021
Exercising daily, sleeping well, cultivating self-esteem, and maintaining a balanced diet are habits that can bring multiple health benefits. Did you know that it even helps prevent dementia?

Many people ask about early symptoms of dementia that could trigger an age-related neurodegenerative disease, and more specifically, dementia.

Dementia is a generic term to describe symptoms that affect reasoning, memory and cognitive activity, as a result of natural deterioration with age.

Some signs may be significant, but always require contrast with a specialist. Not everyone has the same abilities and skills every day, and you should also know that emotional state has a great influence on these aspects as well.

Therefore, we have to distinguish between feeling dizzy as a consequence of going through a period of stress, and general nervousness, for example.

Possible early symptoms of dementia

Although each case is different, we can name some common early symptoms of dementia:

Senses:

  • Smelling less. The loss of smell (total or partial) is usually one of the early symptoms of dementia and specifically: Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
  • Worse management of vision. Visual information can become difficult, for example, when calculating distances or color differences. In addition, the ability to read gets worse and it’s more difficult for them to understand what’s being read.
A stressed woman.

General difficulties

There are usually certain symptoms that could indicate the appearance of dementia in the future.

  • Problems with expression and writing. Patients experience difficulties in starting or participating in a conversation. They forget what they just said, forget simple words, and the grammar gets worse. They also make more grammatical and punctuation errors. Writing becomes more difficult to read and understand.
  • Losing objects. They often forget where they’ve placed routine and everyday objects (keys, TV remote, wallet, etc.).
  • Difficulty in performing household tasks. Sometimes they lose the ability to do simple tasks such as making a cup of tea, turning on the TV, operating the computer, or going to a family member’s house.
  • Slowness in making decisions. Increased difficulty in making decisions such as planning an itinerary or deciding what recipe to make. Also, when following directions to prepare the recipe or to follow the appropriate itinerary when driving.
  • Memory lapses. A person with dementia has more difficulty remembering information about things they’ve recently learned, such as dates, names, or places they’ve visited. They forget their scheduled doctor’s appointment or may even forget to write down the appointment.
  • Easily disoriented and loses track of time. People with dementia are likely to become disoriented in places they visit often and forget even the reason they’re there. They also have difficulties in analyzing the passage of time. They forget important dates and sometimes find it difficult to distinguish the past from the future.

Discover: LATE Dementia, a New Type of Dementia

Personal issues

  • Changes in character and mood. People with early symptoms of dementia experience mood swings. They may suddenly feel very anxious, irascible, fearful, or overly depressed, and may sometimes engage in inappropriate or uninhibited behavior in public.
  • Tendency to isolate. Because they tend to feel more fearful and vulnerable, they show no interest in social interaction or pay no attention to what others are saying. As a result, they may become more withdrawn and prone to isolation and melancholy.
A man sitting alone.
Depressive pictures are the prelude to Alzheimer’s.
  • Neglecting personal hygiene. They have difficulties when making decisions and reduce their capacity for judgment and good sense. For example, when it comes to shopping, they’ll buy useless, extravagant or excessive amounts of things. On the other hand, they may abandon their personal cleanliness and decorum, which causes them to have several problems in the social field.

Good habits to help the brain stay young

The brain doesn’t age like the rest of the body. It doesn’t have gray hair or wrinkles. However, we often feel that the older we get, the slower our mental capacities get. For example, our short-term memory (the one that allows us to remember phone numbers) suffers.

To keep the brain young, we can rely on certain habits of life as simple as:

  • Doing moderate physical exercise, preferably aerobic and outdoors. Being in contact with nature, breathing well, and doing oxygenation exercises with deep breaths. Oxygenation of the brain is fundamental.
  • Maintaining an active social life. Studies such as the one published in 2006 in the journal Neurology suggest that social relationships can play a positive role in dementia.
  • Sleep well. Specialists recommended between 7-9 hours. It’s also very healthy to nap a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 90 minutes every 13-16 hours.
  • Eat appropriate foods. Some foods like refined sugar, processed foods, industrial flours, saturated fats and alcohol can have an effect on the appearance of dementia.
  • Cultivate self-esteem. Social relationships begin with the relationship we establish with ourselves. Showing ourselves love, admiration and pride, pampering our bodies, taking care of our physical appearance, and spending time listening to our bodies can be a parameter that makes us feel younger.
A woman with dementia looking out the window.

Obviously, no two brains age the same. However, most of the life patterns we’ve just mentioned and that we handle every day can contribute to keeping the brain young.

Also read: How Sugar Affects the Brain

The importance of early diagnosis

Detecting the aforementioned symptoms (before they become acute) can help establish more effective treatments to alleviate them. Therefore, visiting a specialist if they occur recurrently and worsen over time will help prevent further deterioration.

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