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The Alzheimer’s Society highlight ten tell-tale signs of dementia

General / Fri 20th May 2022 am31 07:19am

TEN tell-tale signs of dementia are being highlighted by Alzheimer’s Society in Essex in a bid to help people get the support they need. 

There are more than 23,600 people estimated to be living with dementia in Essex but it’s feared across the UK tens of thousands of people are living with undiagnosed dementia. 

Claire Stockwell-Lance, Area Manager for Alzheimer’s Society in Essex, said: “Every three minutes in the UK someone develops dementia, but right now diagnosis rates are at a five-year low due to the pandemic. 

“We know some people can be put off seeking a diagnosis for a number of reasons such as thinking memory loss is a normal part of ageing, they don’t recognise the signs, or are just too afraid.

“Our Dementia Connect team are here to help people through the process of diagnosis by providing guidance on what to expect and what support Alzheimer’s Society can offer throughout. 

“We’re here to help people understand and come to terms with their diagnosis. We provide a confidential listening ear, tailored information and emotional support so people with dementia can continue to live fulfilled lives.”

Looking back, Jane Burman, of Rochford, Essex believes her husband Russell started showing signs of dementia years before his official diagnosis.

Jane, 61, would question unusual behavior but think nothing more about it. With no knowledge of dementia, it was the last thing they thought about.

Jane said: “When I think back, Russell would leave cupboard doors open, car window wipers on when it wasn’t raining and at times he couldn’t find the right words for things. 

“It sounds silly to say, but I remember a time when he was in the garden planting some flowers and I’d ask where the plant pot had gone. He didn’t know but we eventually realised he’d planted it in the ground too. 

“We didn’t think much about it but now it does make me think if they were all early signs of dementia.”

Russell became withdrawn from his usual self and after bursting in tears one day, they sought advice from the GP.

Jane said: “Russell was initially diagnosed with depression and I suppose the symptoms do present the same. However, over time things just got worse until eventually we were referred for a brain scan and that’s when his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease was confirmed, at the age of 64.

“I remember feeling a sense of relief, we finally had something to attribute things to and was no longer in the dark. 

“Nobody wants a dementia diagnosis and we didn’t know how much it would impact our lives but at least knowing helped us to find out more and understand it better.”

This Dementia Action Week (16-22 May), Alzheimer’s Society is encouraging anyone concerned that they or someone close to them may be experiencing signs of dementia, to reach out to the charity for support.

The charity says asking the same question over again; it’s not called getting old, it’s called getting ill and it could be a sign of dementia. The sooner people can get a dementia diagnosis, the sooner they can plan for the future and unlock the door to treatment, care and support.

Here’s 10 other signs of possible dementia:

  1. Forgetting things more frequently

For someone with dementia, problems with memory and thinking get worse quicker than they would normally do with age, with noticeable decline over a period of months as opposed to years. For a doctor to diagnose someone with dementia, their symptoms must have become more frequent and have a significant impact on daily life.

  1. Losing track of date and time 

If you find yourself getting lost in a familiar place or being unable to find your way home, this can also be a red flag and you should mention it to your GP. Some people also experience ‘time shifts’ – for example, a person may think they’re still living in a previous home – particularly if it’s one where they felt most ‘at home’.

  1. Not finding the right words

It is common as we age that on occasions, we may struggle to find the right words but remember them eventually. With possible signs of dementia, there are frequent problems finding the right word or regularly referring to objects as ‘that thing’. For a person with dementia, issues with language can vary from day-to-day or be more or less of a problem at different times of the day.

If a person with dementia is living in a care setting or staying in hospital, any communication problems they have can affect the care and support they receive. Alzheimer’s Society produces a simple form called ‘This is me’ to help record personal information about a person so their care can be tailored to their needs. 

  1. Becoming withdrawn and less social 

The symptoms of dementia can cause a person to become more withdrawn from work, friends or family. Dementia makes interacting socially with other people much more difficult and tiring, and it can also hit a person’s confidence hard. Conversations may be harder to follow, especially in noisy environments, so, it can be tempting for a person with dementia to want to stay at home. 

  1.  Finding it hard to complete familiar tasks

For someone with dementia, familiar tasks they’ve done all their lives may start to get difficult to do. They may also lose the ability to carry out tasks in the proper order, like trying to cook pasta before putting the water in. 

  1. Putting things in unusual places

We all misplace our belongings around the home now and again – and then find them before too long. People with dementia do this more but they sometimes also put objects in unusual places too, for example putting your house keys in the fridge.

  1. Difficulty understanding what you see 

It’s totally normal for your eyesight not to be as sharp as it was when you were younger. However, if you’re still having issues reading text, even with glasses on, it might be worth telling you GP. Some people with dementia have difficulty judging distances or seeing edges clearly, causing trips or falls. Dementia sometimes causes hallucinations or seeing, hearing or smelling things that aren’t there. This is most common in people living with dementia with Lewy bodies, a less common type of dementia. 

  1. Trouble making informed and careful decisions 

Life is full of distractions and can get overwhelming, we’ve all had moments when we’ve made a poor decision. However, if a person finds that they’re making a lot of poor decisions – either because they can’t process information like they used to or because their personality seems to have changed a lot over just a few months – it could be a sign that they need to see their doctor. 

  1. Regularly getting distracted and losing focus

There may be times during a conversation where you get distracted or start zoning out – while it might leave you bit red-faced, it’s not necessarily a sign that anything’s wrong. However, if you keep forgetting the names of common objects, forgetting words or quickly losing the thread of what someone is saying, it could be a sign of dementia. 

  1. Changes in mood and behaviour

Nobody is expected to feel positive all the time but if you, or someone you know, is starting to become easily irritable, losing interest in things, or has extreme highs and lows this may be a sign of dementia.

Support and more information about a diagnosis is just a phone call or a click away. Visit alzheimers.org.uk/memoryloss or call Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect support line, on 0333 150 3456.

For callers who do not have English as their language of choice, Alzheimer’s Society can arrange a simultaneous language translation service. 

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