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Early sign of dementia to spot – Can present well before the loss of memory

Early symptoms of dementia explained in NHS video

Dementia is a syndrome – a group of symptoms – related to the ongoing decline of the brain.

Many of us are aware of some of the signs of dementia, with memory loss often being the first issue you would think of.

However, it can affect more than just memory and in fact other problems may even appear first.

According to one neurologist, trouble with speech could appear “well before” the loss of memory.

Forgetting the odd word here and there could be a common sign of ageing, however, if it becomes a pattern this is cause for concern.

READ MORE Early signs of dementia often missed by families – what to look for

Doctor Arif Dalvi, a neurologist and physician chief of the Movement Disorders Program at Delray Medical Center, told Huffpost: “Difficulty with language including word-finding difficulty, incorrect sentence construction or difficulty with self-expression can present well before the loss of memory.”

He also warned about issues with a person’s sense of space and direction.

“Visual or spatial skills can also be affected early,” Dr Dalvi said.

“A common way this presents is difficulty navigating a previously familiar route or needing GPS directions to a route that was previously known.”

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The NHS lists difficulties with movement and language as common signs of dementia.

“Dementia is not only about memory loss,” it says. “It can also affect the way you speak, think, feel and behave.”

Other ‘red flags’ of dementia

There are other less well known signs of dementia that should not be ignored.

Dr Stanley Appel, neurologist and director of the Ann Kimball and John W. Johnson Center for Cellular Therapeutics, told Huffpost these can include difficulty completing familiar tasks, noise sensitivity and a change in taste and smell.

It may also cause distressing neurological issues.

“Some types of dementia, such as Lewy body dementia, can cause hallucinations or delusions,” Dr Appel said.

“It’s crucial to note that hallucinations can also result from other causes, and any unusual symptoms should be discussed with a health care provider.”

Dr Dalvi added: “An abrupt change in personality or mood without underlying explanation should also raise a red flag.”

While there is no cure for dementia, there are some treatments as well as support out there to help with the symptoms.

“Traditional treatment options, such as medication to manage symptoms, recommendations for lifestyle changes and referrals to support services like occupational and speech therapy are vital in maintaining cognitive function and overall well-being,” Dr Appel said.

The full list of symptoms according to the NHS include problems with:

  • Memory loss
  • Thinking speed
  • Mental sharpness and quickness
  • Language, such as using words incorrectly, or trouble speaking
  • Understanding
  • Judgement
  • Mood
  • Movement
  • Difficulties doing daily activities.

If you suspect someone you know is experiencing symptoms of dementia you should alert their GP.

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