Dementia: Early signs include difficulty remembering times and dates – signs to spot

Dr Zoe says walking can reduce risk of dementia

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Research shows there are more than 850,000 people in the UK who have dementia. The Mayo Clinic says: “Dementia is caused by damage to or loss of nerve cells and their connections in the brain. Depending on the area of the brain that’s damaged, dementia can affect people differently and cause different symptoms.” Indeed, one sign can be struggling to remember times and dates.

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.

The health body explains: “The symptoms of dementia usually become worse over time. In the late stage of dementia, people will not be able to take care of themselves and may lose their ability to communicate.”

Fran Vandelli, a Dementia Lead at Bupa Care Services said: “Early Alzheimer’s symptoms often include difficulty remembering times and dates, and taking in new information, such as learning to do something new.

“You may also go on to forget the names of familiar faces and places and struggle to find the right words when trying to say something.”

Fran added: “There may be signs of changes in behaviour: as you lose confidence and find day to day life hard work, you may become withdrawn and lose interest in your usual activities.

“As the condition worsens, you can find it difficult to plan and make decisions, can easily become confused, and become anxious which can lead to agitation.

“Understandably, these changes in feelings and behaviour can cause a lot of distress for a person and can put them at greater risk of depression.”

Dementia Australia says that the early signs of dementia “are very subtle” and may not be immediately obvious.

It adds that early symptoms also vary across individual patients, but there are a number of early signs.

Alongside memory problems, a key sign is repetitive behaviour. Others also find that they have difficulty performing familiar tasks and social isolation.

Dementia Australia adds that early signs also include confusion about time and place, problems with abstract thinking, loss of initiative, poor or decreased judgement, language problems and other behavioural changes.

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 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.

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 general rule of thumb is what is good for the heart is good for the brain.

As the NHS explains, a healthy lifestyle can also help prevent cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and heart attacks, which are themselves risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

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.
The number of people with dementia is increasing perhaps because people are living longer.

By 2025, Dementia UK reports more than one million people will be living with dementia in the UK.

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