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Published on: Dementia Resources

Dementia Symptoms and How to Spot the Signs

Dementia is not a disease itself, but rather a collection of symptoms that result from damage to the brain caused by different diseases. This includes Alzheimer’s which accounts for around 60% of cases in older people.

Everyone is unique and no two cases of dementia are the same. Factors such as the environment the person is in can impact their experience with it.

Common early symptoms:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory impairment
  • Memory lapses
  • Struggle to find the right words and follow conversations
  • Difficulty processing information
  • Difficulty recognising people and places
  • Changes in mood and behaviour

It is important to remember that different diseases have different traits, for example memory lapse is common with Alzheimer’s, whereas hallucinations are more common with Lewy bodies.

Dementia usually progresses through stages and catching it early means that you can help your loved one understand how their condition may develop.

Early Stages – The onset of dementia is usually gradual, and it is often impossible to identify an exact moment when the symptoms, such as memory problems, began to appear.

Middle Stages – Memory impairment, cognitive impairment and confusion may become more apparent. May have a greater impact on a person’s ability to maintain independence and take care of themselves.

Later Stages – In the later stages, the person living with the dementia is likely to neglect their own health and may require around the clock care. The most common symptoms of dementia in the later stages include:

  • Memory problems – some people may not recognise people or places.
  • Communication problems – some may lose the ability to speak altogether.
  • Mobility problems – many may become less able to move around unaided.
  • Behavioural problems – some may develop “behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia” which include increased agitation, depressive symptoms, anxiety, wandering, aggression or sometimes hallucinations.
  • Bladder or bowel incontinence.
  • Appetite and weight loss problems.

Throughout every stage, there is a way to provide dignified care and support and encourage someone to continue with social interaction.

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