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Recognising Early Signs of Dementia: Key Symptoms to Watch Out For

In today’s fast-paced world, where multitasking is more a necessity than a choice, it’s easy to mistake signs of burnout for something more concerning—like dementia. However, recognising the early signs of dementia can lead to timely intervention, which is crucial for managing the condition effectively.

Dementia is not a single illness but a general term used to describe symptoms of impairment in memory, communication, and thinking. While the likelihood of developing dementia increases with age, early onset can occur in people as young as 30.

One of the first signs often noticed is forgetfulness. Mild memory loss is normal as we age, but when it disrupts daily life, it could be a red flag. For instance, forgetting recently learned information, important dates, or repeatedly asking for the same information may indicate the early stages of dementia.

Another significant early sign is difficulty in completing familiar tasks. People might find it hard to manage their budget, remember the rules of a favourite game, or drive to a well-known location. This is often paired with confusion about time and place. Sufferers may lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. Sometimes, they may find themselves in a place and not remember how they got there.

Language problems are also a marker. Following or joining a conversation can become challenging. People with dementia might stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue, or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have trouble naming a familiar object or use the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).

Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps can be an early sign of dementia. A person suffering from dementia might put things in unusual places. Losing things from time to time is normal, but the frequency and inability to trace steps can be a warning sign of dementia.

The behavioural changes are often the most challenging to deal with. A once outgoing person might withdraw from social activities, work, hobbies, or sports. Or, they might show mood swings, becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious.

While these signs may be mild at first, they become more pronounced with time. Understanding these signs and seeking professional help can make a significant difference in managing the condition effectively.

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