8 Early Signs of Dementia to Watch For

8 Early Warning Signs of Dementia

By Will Reid, 9:00 am on

The early signs of dementia are often subtle and can mimic other health conditions. If you notice any of the following warning signs in your senior loved one, encourage him or her to consult a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis. While there is no cure for dementia, early treatment can slow the progression of the disease.

1. Frequent Falls

Dementia can affect visual-spatial skills, which can cause seniors to misinterpret what they see and misjudge distances and changes in elevation. A decrease in reasoning skills can also make it difficult to detect when a situation may be dangerous, leading to more frequent falls.

Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality home care. Cincinnati families trust in Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.

2. Compulsive or Ritualistic Behavior

The short-term memory loss and behavioral changes associated with early dementia can lead to repetitive behavior. Your loved one may ask a question repeatedly even when given the answer or repeat a task several times. In extreme cases, it can even lead to hoarding. 

3. Difficulty with Language

Language is often one of the first skills affected by dementia. While most people occasionally have difficulty finding the correct word, those in the early stages of dementia frequently forget simple words and have difficulty expressing themselves. Handwriting may also deteriorate as the brain slowly forgets to perform the physical task of putting pen to paper. 

4. Problems with Abstract Thinking

Difficulty performing tasks with multiple steps or following detailed instructions often arises early in dementia. These problems should not be dismissed merely as “senior moments.” You may notice your mother suddenly having difficulty following a recipe even though she has always been an avid cook, or your father may be unable to balance a checkbook despite always handling the family finances. 

Seniors with early-stage dementia may need help performing daily tasks around the house and building new routines. Aging in place can present a few unique challenges for older adults. Some only require part-time assistance with exercise or meal preparation, while others are living with serious illnesses and benefit more significantly from receiving live-in care. Cincinnati, Ohio, Home Care Assistance are leaders in the elderly in-home care industry for good reason. We tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual needs, our caregivers continue to receive updated training in senior care as new developments arise, and we also offer comprehensive care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.

5. Changes in Mood

Even in the earliest stages of dementia, your loved one may start to act out of character with his or her normal personality. The frustration and fear caused by the inability to recall information can lead to outbursts of anger. You loved one may also go from happy and calm to angry or sad within a few minutes.

6. Inability to Follow Storylines or Conversations

A decrease in short-term memory and the ability to interpret and analyze language can make it difficult for your loved one to follow a conversation or the plot of his or her favorite television show. You may notice your loved one becoming more reluctant to join in a conversation or talk on the phone. It is also common for seniors with dementia to make jokes out of their mistakes as a way to cover for their confusion.

7. Loss of Empathy

Dementia often affects the cognitive empathy that tells people what is appropriate to say or do in certain circumstances. You may notice your loved one starting to say things that are embarrassing or even hurtful. It is important to remember this lack of empathy is not a reflection of your loved one’s true feelings but rather a symptom of the disease. 

8. Apathy

Confusion and memory loss can cause seniors with early-stage dementia to lose interest in their normal activities and hobbies. They often become reluctant to leave the home and spend an excessive time sleeping. They may also appear emotionally numb when engaging with friends or family.

If your aging loved one has dementia or another age-related condition, consider hiring a professional caregiver. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Cincinnati, Ohio, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity. To schedule a free in-home consultation, call us at 513.891.2273 today.