What are the signs of dementia?
The early signs of dementia are often very subtle—often not involving memory loss—and hard to detect. The signs of dementia can also be caused by other things, such as depression, medication problems, nutritional disorders or a number of medical conditions. Dementia develops at different rates in different people. People with dementia are likely to have at least a few of the following signs:
· forgetting appointments or a friend’s name and not being able to remember them later
· losing their way in familiar places, not knowing what time of day it is
· having difficulty finding words, using the wrong words in a sentence
· experiencing problems with familiar tasks like making a meal
· exhibiting poor or impaired judgment, such as dressing inappropriately for the weather
· losing abstract thinking skills, such as not knowing how to read a bank statement
· misplacing familiar objects or putting them in the wrong place
· experiencing changes in mood, such as quickly shifting from laughter to tears to shouting
· exhibiting changes in personality, such as becoming uncharacteristically irritable, suspicious or fearful
· losing the desire to carry out simple but important day-to-day activities.
What can be done if dementia is diagnosed?
Receiving a diagnosis of dementia can be very difficult. Nevertheless, there are a number of steps you can take to help yourself or a family member continue to enjoy life:
· Focus on the things you can do, rather than on the things you can no longer do.
· Stay involved in activities that give pleasure and that have meaning for you.
· Stay physically active and eat a healthy diet.
· Plan for the future so that your wishes can be respected.
· Reach out for support, both from family, close friends and from community services that help people maintain their independence and dignity.
· Learn about dementia to find out what to expect and about strategies that can help you to live the fullest life possible.
· Acknowledge that living with dementia can be difficult.
Adapted from Improving our Response to Older Adults with Substance Use, Mental Health and Gambling Problems © CAMH 2008