Dementia: Nine early warning symptoms of disease – surprising lesser-known signs to spot

Dementia: Dr Sara on benefits of being in nature

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Dementia refers to a cluster of symptoms associated with brain decline. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease – a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. It is commonly viewed as an inevitable result of the ageing process even though it isn’t. What are the nine major early warning signs to be aware of?

Dementia is not a disease but a collection of symptoms which result from brain damage.

It is a general term of memory loss, as well as the loss of language, problem-solving and other thinking skills.

When these losses are severe enough to impact your daily life, you are deemed to have dementia.

The nine early warning signs of dementia include:

  • Memory loss
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Confusion with time and place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgement
  • Withdrawing from work and social activities
  • Changes in personality and mood.

An inability to detect speech in a noisy environment is also a key hallmark of early onset dementia, warned a study by Oxford researchers.

In the study, participants aged over 60 years were followed for a total of 11 years to determine any other lesser-known signs.

A total of 82,000 participants were involved and noted 1,285 people developed dementia.

Researchers were able to pinpoint those who struggled to hear conversation in loud environments were more likely to get the disease.

Lead author Doctor Jonathan Stevenson said: “Difficulty hearing speech in background noise is one of the most common problems for people with age-related hearing impairment.

“This is the first study to investigate its association with dementia in a large population.”

While observing early symptoms of dementia in a loved one can be challenging, help is available.

In order to get a diagnosis, it is important the person affected is encouraged to go to the doctor’s for a memory test.

It may help to remind them that memory issues don’t always point towards dementia.

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