GoodOaks News | 10 May 2024

What are the signs of dementia?

Learn the signs of dementia and support your loved ones with our guide. With over 900,000 affected in the UK, understanding symptoms like memory loss is crucial. GoodOaks offers specialist dementia care and free resources for family carers. Download our guides today.

Dementia

What are the signs of dementia?

According to Alzheimer’s.Org dementia is the biggest killer in the UK. There are currently around 900,000 people with dementia in the UK and this is projected to rise to 1.6 million people by 2040. Dementia is not a normal part of ageing. With an ageing population and increasing life expectancy, dementia has become a pressing concern across our country.

Whether you’re a concerned family member or simply someone seeking knowledge, understanding the signs of dementia is really important.

From subtle changes in behaviour to more pronounced cognitive decline, we’ll explore the symptoms that may be signs of dementia: 

Everyone experiences dementia in different ways and exhibits different symptoms. However, the symptoms that are the most common are:

  • Loss of short-term memory
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Difficulty concentrating or organising
  • Becoming confused as to the day, date or location
  • Difficulties following a conversation
  • Inability to recall the word for something
  • Inability to judge distances
  • An increase in mood swings

 

Signs of dementia can vary from person to person and will also depend on the stage of their dementia too. Please remember that people may have some or all of these symptoms and symptoms may be different depending on the type of dementia someone has.

Disorientation

  • People with dementia often become disorientated, both with time and with the environment around them.

  • The person may feel lost in familiar surroundings, even within their own home, or they may not remember how to get from one familiar place to another. For example, a person with dementia may have taken a walk to the supermarket only to find that they cannot remember how to get home again.

  • A person with dementia may also confuse the times of day or lose track of time. For example, they may get confused between night and day, not recall what time they are supposed to eat or think a person has been out of the room for hours when it was only minutes.

Mood swings and personality changes

  • Mood swings often affect people with dementia more severely than others. The person may suffer from rapid mood swings that are completely out of character and they may even suffer from hallucinations.

  • A sign of dementia may also be that they are more or less emotional than they used to be. For example, they may be extra clingy to their loved ones or they may become angry and hostile.

  • The most common mood swings include those of anger, anxiety, agitation, depression or frustration.

  • A person with dementia may show signs of personality change and exhibit behaviour that is very out of character or different to how they normally are. For example, the person may become more irritable, aggressive, worried or suspicious than usual.

  • It’s also not uncommon for a person with dementia to become more tired or apathetic than normal or begin to lose an interest in their hobbies.

  • They may also begin to show some more uncomfortable personality changes, such as obsessively wandering around the room, conducting themselves in an embarrassing manner or displaying more (or less) sexual behaviour than is usual. These changes, particularly in sexual behaviour, are mainly seen with fronto-temperal dementia.

  • A person with dementia may find it difficult to keep up with a conversation topic or a television program or they may lose track of dates and times. For example, the person may forget their weekly sports club or turn up for it on the wrong day.

Difficulty with everyday tasks

A common sign of dementia is when a loved one is beginning to show signs of struggling with everyday tasks. For someone with dementia, even the most routine of tasks are challenging and can cause stress or anxiety. They may be confused and not aware of where they are, or the time. They can feel lost.

For example, a person with dementia may:

  • Lose everyday objects, such as their keys
  • Forget which cupboard the food is in
  • Not be able to wash and dress
  • Forget how to tell the time
  • Not remember how to make a cup of tea
  • Forget how to count money
  • Not be able to read a book or magazine

 

Everyone occasionally has difficulty finding the right word for something or can’t quickly recall the name for an object, TV show or celebrity. However, for someone with dementia, it’s often the simplest or most familiar words that are forgotten.

A person with dementia may also use the wrong word in the wrong place or lose track of their sentence, starting on one topic and finishing on another. This can happen in both speech and writing. Similarly, a person with dementia may not be able to easily follow instructions or remember a series of words. Furthermore, the person with dementia may be very confused about what is happening. They may be aware that they have lost track but not know why or remember what it is they have lost track of.

Tips for visiting the GP to discuss your concerns

It may come to the point where you need to approach your GP for an initial conversation. If you are accompanying someone to their GP after noticing signs of dementia, here are some pointers to help you during that appointment:

  • Make a list of everything that needs discussing with the GP, such as symptoms or questions that you, or the other person, would like to ask. Start with your list as soon as the consultation begins.

  • Write down anything important that the GP says so you can look it up after or refer back to it at the next visit.

  • Always ask the GP to explain something if you or the person you are with does not understand.

  • Keep in mind that the appointment is for the person you are caring for, so ensure that they get to ask as many questions as they wish.

  • Allow the person time at the end of the appointment to speak to the GP alone. It can be an extremely worrying time but try and remember that a diagnosis of dementia doesn’t mean that life is going to change immediately and there is lots of help and support available out there.

At GoodOaks, we offer specialist dementia care for those living with dementia that need extra support to remain at home. If you have noticed signs of dementia in a loved one recently, please reach out to see how we can help and support everyone involved. We also offer respite care for the people who are currently supporting their loved ones at home. 

Our “You Are Not Alone” campaign aims to address the lack of support and resources for individuals needing some extra help to remain independent, and also for their family carers.

Download our free guides for helpful advice and remember, You Are Not Alone.