franciscan ministries logo

5 Early Signs of Dementia & the Importance of Early Detection

June 15, 2024

Blog image

Witnessing cognitive decline in someone you love is a deeply distressing experience. For aging adults, challenges with memory lapses or sudden changes in behavior can be equally frightening. 

Recognizing the early signs of dementia is a critical step in managing cognitive health and ensuring your or your family member’s well-being. Most importantly, learning about the early signs of dementia and researching the symptoms can make all the difference for your family’s peace of mind.

Franciscan Ministries provides exceptional dementia care throughout our senior living communities in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, and we’re sharing information to help individuals understand what to look for and how to address these early indicators of dementia.

Understanding Dementia

When discussing dementia, it’s essential to start with a clear definition. Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of symptoms affecting memory, thinking, and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily functioning. While there are many causes of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common. Other types include vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and Lewy body dementia.

Common Early Signs

Memory Loss That Disrupts Daily Life

One of the most significant early signs of dementia is persistent memory loss that disrupts daily living activities and routines. This could include forgetting important dates or events and asking for the same information over and over, but it often goes further than this.

For example, you might notice that your family member has started to rely heavily on memory aids, like post-it notes placed all over their home or electronic devices, in order to remember important dates, appointments or information. Not only does this memory loss disrupt their typical routine, but it can hinder their ability to attend important appointments or events.

Disorientation and Confusion

A person with dementia may become confused easily. They might not recognize where they are or how they got there, and they may have difficulty recalling the day of the week or the current time.

Changes in Behavior and Personality

Early signs of dementia can also manifest as changes in mood or personality. The affected individual might become suspicious, depressed, anxious, or apathetic. They may also find themselves easily upset in situations that are unfamiliar or outside of their regular routine.

Emotional Effects

The onset of dementia can be incredibly disheartening for individuals. It often leads to a loss of independence and feelings of frustration and shame. Anxiety about the future and the ability to manage the condition may also take a significant emotional toll.

Physical Strain

In addition to the emotional challenges, dementia can lead to physical strain as well. Individuals may experience weight loss or gain, sleep disturbances, and a loss of interest in nutrition and physical activities, all of which can further deteriorate their health.

The Importance of Early Detection

Recognizing the early signs of dementia allows individuals to explore various treatment and support options that can improve their quality of life. Seeking professional help to obtain a formal diagnosis and guidance on available resources is crucial. By acting early, individuals and their families can work alongside healthcare professionals to create a comprehensive plan for managing the condition effectively and possibly delaying its progression.

Why Seek Professional Help?

Professional assessment and diagnosis by qualified healthcare providers specializing in dementia can provide the understanding and guidance needed to move forward. They can also help rule out other potential causes for the observed symptoms and address any associated health concerns.

Available Treatments and Therapies

Although there is currently no cure for most types of dementia, early intervention can significantly improve the individual’s quality of life. Medications, cognitive therapies and support services are among the many interventions that can help manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

Recognizing early signs of dementia can be the first step toward taking control of the condition and ensuring the best possible outcome. By staying informed, seeking professional help, and taking advantage of the multitude of resources available, individuals and their families can face this challenge with confidence.

In an effort to increase awareness about dementia and to create a more supportive and informed society, Franciscan Ministries is here to share information, provide assistance to those affected and remind us that the human spirit has an incredible capacity to adapt and thrive – even in the most challenging circumstances. 

We want to help you and your family live joyfully and find the best possible care. Contact our team today to learn more about senior living options in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio!