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The first signs of dementia that are not memory loss as doctor issues warning

What is dementia?

Dementia can rear its ugly head in more ways than just one. While memory loss is the best-known sign of the mind-robbing condition, your behaviour could also ring alarm bells.

A dementia expert has shared what to look out for as predictions warn dementia cases are set to reach 153 million people by 2050.

Without a cure in sight, the greatest weapon in the fight against dementia is early detection.

Fortunately, Dr Byron Creese, a dementia expert from Brunel University London, outlined the lesser-known first signs of dementia.

Dr Creese said: “Memory loss seems to be the main symptom that people associate with dementia, but it is just one of a number of neuropsychiatric symptoms that we see in people with dementia.

READ MORE: ‘I’m a doctor – here’s a surprising risk factor that could lead to dementia’

“It is important to look out for behavioural changes such as agitation, aggression, depression, anxiety and apathy, as well as social withdrawal, socially inappropriate behaviour, impulsive behaviour and weird changes in behaviour that were not there before.”

The dementia expert explained that the “vast majority” of people with Alzheimer’s disease – the most prevalent type of dementia – will experience at least one of these signs.

Therefore, it’s crucial to look out for these red flags, especially when they occur later in life.

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Dr Creese said: “When these symptoms occur later in life, as sustained symptoms that are not attributable to another medical or psychiatric condition, they carry an increased risk of dementia and can alert you to the disease.”

Furthermore, the expert shared that behavioural changes could be “the first” red flag to alert to neurodegenerative diseases.

“These behavioural symptoms can emerge as new symptoms in older adults who are cognitively normal, and there is emerging evidence that they might be the first manifestation of an underlying neurodegenerative disease in some people,” Dr Creese added.

Apart from behavioural changes, the NHS recommends looking out for other “early” symptoms including:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping
  • Struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
  • Being confused about time and place
  • Mood changes.

The health service advises speaking to your GP “sooner rather than later” if you’re worried about memory problems or other symptoms.

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