Expert shares how to spot the ‘earliest’ signs of dementia

What is dementia?

Every brain is different which means there’s no universal scenario to explain exactly how dementia is going to play out. However, an expert has shared the “earliest” signs of the mind-robbing condition to be aware of.

Dementia is triggered by damage to your brain, which can affect areas of the organ involved in creating and retrieving memories. 

Therefore, one of the earliest signs can include memory problems.

Bernadette Mossman, Healthcare Director at the UK’s leading provider of specialist dementia care Vida Healthcare, explained that this can present as a difficulty remembering recent events, appointments, where things are and how to do things that would be classed as routine.

For example, you might suddenly become unable to do things you’ve been able to do your whole life like driving your car or making a cup of tea.

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Mossman said: “Confusion is also noticed along with an inability to recognise familiar people or names and poor concentration.

“For example, someone with dementia may be confused as to why their partner is telling them they have already eaten breakfast when they cannot recall eating. 

“Or they may feel confusion and fear if they do not recognise a person but are told they have known them for years. 

“Someone with dementia may try to rationalise this emotional response by looking for answers.”

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You might notice that you start asking yourself questions like, “Are people lying to me?” or “Am I ill?”.

According to the expert, confusion can prompt you to withdraw and refuse to take part in things you once enjoyed as a result.

Mossman noted that while these two warning signs can crop up early, it’s difficult to determine the exact timeframe.

The expert added: “The brain is an amazing organ and can adapt to changes caused by dementia for many years before key symptoms appear. 

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“There may be subtle indications in thinking and memory during the early stages; however, it is hard to pinpoint a concrete age when these changes begin as every brain is different.

“People also use and challenge their brains in different ways, so some may be able to adapt and manage for much longer before the symptoms become evident.”

Mossman even explained that it isn’t uncommon for people to cover up these signs in the early stages.

However, once you identify these symptoms, you need to “get to your GP as soon as possible” because early treatment can help support better outcomes, the expert added.

How to reduce your dementia risk

The good news is that there are many ways to reduce your risk of dementia, ranging from a healthy diet to exercise.

When it comes to your diet, what you cut down on is equally important as what you include. The NHS recommends keeping your intake of saturated fat, salt and sugar in check.

Furthermore, you should strive for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week – think brisk walking, cycling or dancing.

Quitting smoking and keeping your alcohol intake low could also help lower your risk.

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