Spending time with loved ones during the holidays means it’s easier to spot all of the small changes in behavior that could mean the early stages of memory impairment. While this can cause initial feelings of worry and panic, taking the time to understand the situation is the first step in providing your mother, father, grandparent, sibling or other family member the best care possible.
These are the most common signs that dementia-related changes may be taking place in the brain:
- Memory lapses that disrupt daily life. Forgetting newly-learned information and important dates or events.
- Problem-solving and planning difficulties. Difficulty concentrating and following familiar multi-step processes like recipes or paying bills.
- Difficulty carrying out familiar tasks. Getting lost or needing directions driving to a familiar destination. Confusion using appliances (e.g., microwave or TV remote).
- Locational/temporal confusion. Frequently losing track of dates and passage of time. Trouble understanding things planned for later. Forgetting where they are or how they got there.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. Vision deteriorating or misidentifying common objects. Difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color/contrast.
- New problems with words in speaking or writing. Difficulties during conversations, like losing track and not knowing how to continue. Repeating themselves. Problems finding the right word or referring to things by the wrong name.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. Placing things in unusual locations. Inability to retrace steps to find lost items. Accusing those around them of stealing.
- Decreased or poor judgment. Poor judgment when dealing with money (e.g., giving large amounts to telemarketers). Lapses in grooming and personal cleanliness.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities. Pulling away from social activities, interests, large groups, sports and hobbies. Trouble remembering how to participate in favorite pastimes. Seems introverted.
- Changes in mood and personality. Becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. Upsets easily in places where they are out of their comfort zone
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