Dementia is a syndrome that affects around 800,000 people in the UK and is characterised by a collection of symptoms that result from damage to the brain.
People over the age of 65 are at higher risk of developing dementia symptoms with the most common cause of dementia being Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms can appear very mild to begin with but become more severe over time. Issues with memory loss are common as you get older and are not always a sign of the onset of dementia but if it begins to affect your day to day life then it’s a good idea to seek professional advice.
Common symptoms of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Memory loss. Issues with memory loss will more typically be related to recent events such as forgetting new information, the names of people recently met or repeatedly asking the same questions
- Slowing mental agility. Often displayed as increasing difficulty undertaking activities and tasks that require planning and organisation. They may also have difficulty with words and numbers
- Impaired Judgement. This can come across in a number of ways including a lack of empathy and compassion for others or judging distances such as the height of a step.
- Confusion and disorientation. Individuals will often have a difficulty comprehending their position in time and place, dates and become confused in unfamiliar environments
- Changes in mood and personality. People with dementia will often display changes in their mood and personality. This can include loss of interest in social activities, apathy and signs of depression
- Problems maintaining independence. Those suffering with more advanced dementia may have serious difficulty with coping with personal care and hygiene.
Early symptoms of dementia will display differently in each individual. Normally symptoms are quite mild and can be mistaken for typical signs of aging but they may get worse over time. This can make it difficult for the individual or those close to them to see these early signs or consider them as a sign of dementia developing.
If you have concerns for yourself or a loved one it is best to seek a professional opinion. Whilst there is no single test for dementia a medical professional will be able to make a diagnosis based on a number of tests. These include cognitive tests, physical examinations and brain scans.