The following text has been supplied by Jason Tucker (Organic Development):
We hear an awful lot about Dementia these days, mainly because far more people are now living well into old age. What is somewhat alarming is the estimate that, on top of the cases we already know about, there may be as many as 400,000 sufferers who haven’t even been diagnosed. One of your nearest and dearest may be one of them.
So how do you spot the early signs of Dementia ? Unfortunately, the disease creeps up slowly and steadily so that, if you are seeing someone regularly, you might not even be aware of any deterioration.
Probably the most important thing you need to know is that most elderly people have what is euphemistically called “Senior Moments”. They are often mislaying things or calling close friends or relatives by the wrong forenames. The secret is being able to identify the difference between occasional lapses like these and something which is becoming much more regular.
Also, keep alert to behaviour that is starting to get really unusual. Older people are often forgetting where they put things but a quick search of obvious places normally turns them up quite quickly. If incidences of mislaid items start to get slightly bizarre and quirky, it may be advisable to consult a GP. If, for example, you eventually find the keys in the fridge or a packet of biscuits in the laundry basket, it’s obvious that these are more than normal instances of forgetfulness.
Another sign of the onset of Dementia is uncharacteristic displays of anger. This is because many forms of the disease affect the frontal lobes of the brain which is the area that controls anger and emotion. Again, it’s all a question of frequency. One-off displays of anger or frustration might be due to something like high blood pressure but, where it develops into a much more regular feature, alarm bells should start to ring.
Failure to complete familiar tasks or pastimes may be another surefire sign of Dementia setting in. If you spot difficulty in dealing with everyday tasks like preparing a simple meal or handling a domestic appliance, do not automatically assume that this is down to normal ageing. Again, double-check with the person’s GP.
Finally, remain extremely alert to indications of forgetfulness becoming really persistent. Here again, we are not talking about the occasional variety but virtual daily instances of an inability to recall names, where things are, or even where you are. Someone with early Dementia may well find it difficult to recognise very close friends or relatives.
This article was supplied by Jason Tucker on behalf of Hallmark Care Homes who operate care homes in Brighton, Cardiff, Essex and across the UK. For more information on the effects of dementia, see Hallmark’s latest article on sundown syndrome in the elderly.