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Warning Signs You May be Developing Dementia

Warning Signs You May be Developing Dementia

An occasional forgetful moment is nothing to worry about, but frequent episodes of memory loss, impaired speaking and judgement can signal a larger issue, like dementia.

Not actually a specific disease, dementia instead describes a collection of symptoms that can occur with a host of different disorders that affect the brain. This could include brain damage due to a stroke or injury, Huntington’s disease, Lewy body dementia (LBD), and Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common cause of dementia. Dementia is more common in people over the age of 65 but can also affect people as young as 30. Women with dementia outnumber men 2 to 1.

Dementia can sneak up on you and tends to worsen over time, disrupting your social interactions and relationships, and work life.

Although early signs can vary, common symptoms of dementia include:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty solving problems
  • Difficulty doing daily tasks
  • Being confused about time or place
  • Problems speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things
  • Poor decision-making

In addition to the key warning signs of dementia, many may exhibit physical signs of a cognitive decline. Some behaviors to watch for:

  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Sleep problems
  • Wandering
  • Eating problems
  • Incontinence

If you begin noticing any of these warning signs in a friend or family member, it is important to begin documenting the behaviors, so that you can provide specific examples when talking with a doctor. When tracking the signs and behaviors include details about:

  • When you first noticed dementia behavior
  • Specific dementia symptoms
  • When and how often they struggle
  • Changes in the normal routine and behavior

There are ways to improve your cognitive health and reduce your or a loved one’s risk of developing dementia. Keep your mind active with reading, memory games and puzzles. Stay socially active. Social isolation slows brain activity and cognition, which increases the risk of dementia by almost 20 percent. Obesity and physical inactivity are considered two of the top risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s and dementia, so you should stay physically active and make healthy lifestyle choices -no smoking and including omega-3 fatty acids, fruits and vegetables and whole grains to your diet. Recent studies have also suggested increasing your Vitamin D intake as people with low levels of vitamin D in their blood are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

If you or someone you know are experiencing symptoms of dementia that are not improving over time, talk with a doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment can be critical in slowing the cognitive decline and maintaining mental function.

*Updated 6/13/2022