Dementia, the ongoing decline of brain function, is thought to affect over 850,000 people in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over one million by 2025.
While no two people’s symptoms are exactly the same, in the early stages sufferers are likely to experience some kind of memory loss, which at the beginning might seem to be no cause for alarm. In fact, in those very early stages, the changes will be imperceptible to people around them.
According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, these are seven things a person may experience in the first phases of dementia.
A change in personality
According to the organisation, “a person with dementia may seem different from his or her usual self in ways that are difficult to pinpoint.”
They may become suspicious, irritable, depressed, apathetic, anxious or agitated, especially in situations where memory problems are causing difficulties.
Loss of initiative
A person with early signs of dementia may lose interest in hobbies and become passive, sleeping more than usual or sitting in front of the television for hours, states Alzheimer’s Disease International.
While everyone gets tired sometimes, if you or a loved one is suddenly too exhausted to keep up the usual work or social obligations, it may be worth chatting to a GP.
Problems keeping track of things
It’s not a sign of dementia if you occasionally lose your keys – everyone does that. But a dementia sufferer might put things in odd places – their keys might end up in the fridge.
They might also struggle to keep on top of administrative tasks like paying the bills.
Disorientation to time and place
Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten why? That isn’t a sign of dementia, and neither is sometimes forgetting what day of the week it is.
But Alzheimer’s Disease International says that people with early stages of dementia may become lost in familiar places and not be able to get back home. As the disease develops, they may also confuse night and day.
Poor or decreased judgement
As dementia progresses, a sufferer may make poor decisions, such as what to wear in cold weather, how much things cost or how much time it takes to cook a favourite meal.
Reading may also become harder as they struggle to grasp ideas and concepts.
A change in mood or behaviour
If a person is experiencing rapid mood swings for no apparent reason, dementia could be the cause.
Conversely, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International, a person in the early stages may show less emotion than they used to.
Problems with language
Language problems develop as dementia progresses, until the power of speech is often lost forever.
Traits common with early dementia sufferers include difficulty finding the right words, and substituting unusual words when a simple word is forgotten.
Recent reports state that ibuprofen could prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Canadian doctors have suggested people should start taking a daily dose of anti-inflammatories to help prevent dementia, following a positive saliva test.