While scientists are yet to discover a cure for dementia, there are treatments that can stop or slow further brain decline – and spotting it at the earliest possible stage increases their effectiveness.
Well-known signs of dementia include memory loss and problems thinking, but you could add errors making a cup of tea to that list.
Researchers have found that small mistakes while carrying out daily tasks could be a very early sign of the condition.
A study published in the Journal of Neuropsychology revealed that making mistakes, such as accidentally leaving a teabag in the coffee or checking the fridge for milk that’s already out, could signal that cognitive ability is fading.
Experts are calling for families to be aware that a loved-one who makes lots of little mistakes could be starting to suffer from brain decline which may be diagnosed as dementia in the future.
“Early on, we can look at very subtle errors called ‘micorerrors’,” said Dr Tania Giovannetti, a study author from Temple University in the United States.
“When we compare healthy agers to young people, there are more micro-errors in healthy older adults than young adults, and they’re associated with memory problems and cognitive changes.
“Healthy agers reach out to objects inefficiently, they touch them when they don’t need to, they make all these extra little actions.
“We think that might be the beginning of a problem. If you have more of those, then you are more vulnerable to decline in future.”
In the study, researchers asked 90 participants to perform simple tasks which included making a breakfast of jam on toast, packing a lunch for a child and wrapping a present.
They discovered that if people failed to do the task correctly, they fell into two different groups, and this could indicate their type of dementia.
One group – where sufferers turned out to have Alzheimer’s disease – tended to miss out vital steps or forget they needed to do the task completely.
Another group, who were diagnosed with other forms of dementia, had difficulty sorting the steps into the right order.
However, once properly made, drinking tea can be an effective way to combat memory loss.
A study by the National University of Singapore published earlier this year revealed that it could reduce risk of dementia by 50 per cent.
There are currently 850,000 dementia sufferers in the UK.