When it comes to memory loss and dementia it is very likely not your job to diagnose someone, however, we should all take it upon ourselves to understand. While dementia affects every individual differently, there are some common signs that can be recognized. Should you see someone exhibiting one or more of these symptoms, be patient, communicate clearly, and listen.
Here are some of the most common signs of dementia:
- Memory loss that disrupts day-to-day activities. A common symptom most often associated with dementia. More than simply misplacing the keys, individuals with dementia may not remember things like the reason for being where they are. Often someone with dementia will recall things from their past easier than something very recent.
- Balance and mobility issues. Dementia can physically affect someone too, causing poor balance while standing or sitting, difficulties walking on uneven surfaces (like a weathered parking lot or grassy area), a need for assistance sitting or standing or walking, and even frequent falls.
- Challenges in thinking and planning. You may find someone with dementia struggling with decision making. Handling money falls into this category (making change, paying bills or even understanding the cost of things). They may appear confused or have trouble following directions or instructions.
- Poor judgment. Dementia inhibits a person’s ability to assess risk or safety and causes an inability to correctly understand the intention of others or even their own ability. They may also use unsuitable language or display inappropriate behaviors.
- Confusion about time or place. It is very common for someone with dementia to be unaware of the date or confused about the time of day. They may find themselves lost in a well-known place.
- Vision problems. Dementia can cause difficulty with identifying colors, faces, or objects. Patterns, reflections and spatial relationship can also become hard to comprehend.
- Difficulties in communication. Someone with dementia may experience an inability to find the right word, difficulties following a conversation, or find oneself easily distracted by background noise.
- Restlessness or disorientation. In unfamiliar or noisy environments people with dementia may become confused or ill at ease, fidgety or even agitated.
- Unusual behavior, mood and personality changes. This covers a wide range of activities such as withdrawal from social activities, inexplicable sadness, anxiety or frustration, a lack of confidence, obsessive behaviors or insensitivity toward others.
We have a printable version of our Signs of Dementia handout available for download. If you have someone in your life with dementia, the best thing you can do is become educated about it. AgeRight.org writes often on the topic of Alzheimer’s and Dementia including a recent piece on ways to help someone with dementia. Please also review this Guide for Families on Alzheimer’s and Dementia and check in with your local Council on Aging to see what resources are available in your city or town.
The time for a better understanding of dementia is now. These materials were created as part of Dementia Friendly Communities, a public education campaign by Senior Living Residences.