Dementia: Early signs to look out for in family ‘often mistaken for normal ageing’

Dementia: Early signs to look out for in family ‘often mistaken for normal ageing’

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Statistics from the NHS show one in 14 people over the age of 65 have dementia. There are five more common types of dementia and these are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia and mixed dementia. If you are concerned you may have symptoms you should speak to your GP.

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) says that it is “not easy” to spot the early signs of dementia in some cases.

It notes: “Changes in a person in the early stages of dementia can be so gradual they can often be mistaken for normal ageing.”

It suggests that if a person is struggling to remember a name, follow a conversation or cannot recall what they did yesterday, “many of us may put it down to the fact that the person is getting older” but it may well be a warning that they are in the early stages of dementia.

“Family, friends and care workers are likely to be the first to see the signs and play a key role in encouraging a person receiving care to see a GP,” it states.

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Signs to look for include if someone is struggling to remember what they did yesterday and forgets the names of friends or everyday objects.

The organisation adds: “They may have difficulty following conversations or TV programmes, repeat things over and over, or have problems thinking or reasoning. They may feel angry, anxious or depressed about memory loss or feel confused even in a familiar environment.”

Dementia can cause a number of changes, and there are a variety of signs to be aware of.

Perhaps the most well known sign is memory loss, though there are also a number of changes which can occur in a person’s mood and personality.

Early diagnosis means its progression can be slowed down in some cases, so it is important to spot the signs early.

The Alzheimer’s Society says that individuals living with Alzheimer’s may experience mood and personality changes, and there are a number of “warning” signs.

“They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, with friends or when out of their comfort zone,” it notes.

The NHS says that dementia symptoms may also include problems with language, such as using words incorrectly, or trouble speaking, as well as movement and difficulties doing daily activities.

Some dementia risk factors are impossible to change, such as age and genetics, however research suggests other risk factors may also be important, and may be possible to change.

The NHS suggests that risk factors such as hearing loss, untreated depression, loneliness or social isolation, or sitting for most of the day, may also be important.

The Alzheimer’s Society notes that mid-life – from your 40s into your early 60s – is a good time to start taking steps to reduce your risk of developing dementia, though it is helpful to take steps at any age.

“The brain changes that cause dementia can start years or even decades before symptoms develop. If you live a healthy lifestyle now, you are reducing the chances that these brain changes will happen,” it adds.

The NHS Health Check can help find early signs and tell you if you’re at higher risk of certain health problems that can also increase your risk of dementia.

It is a free check-up of your overall health for people aged 40 to 74 who do not have heart disease, diabetes or kidney disease, and have not had a stroke, and is offered every five years.

There are more than 100 types of dementia and many of the symptoms overlap so it can be hard to identify the specific form of brain decline one has.

If memory loss begins to affect daily life, it is recommended that you speak with your GP.

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