According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 5 million adults living with dementia—and that number grows every year. Dementia itself isn't a specific disease, but a general term that describes a declining ability to "remember, think, or make decisions that interfere with doing everyday activities." However, the most common type of dementia, Alzheimer's, is—and it is not only progressive but deadly—making it incredibly important to identify the symptoms and signs as soon as possible. "People most commonly associate dementia with memory impairment, however early signs of dementia can be more subtle and manifest in other areas including language/communication, losing one's ability to reason or focus, and or behavioral/ personality changes," Vivek Cherian, MD, a Baltimore based Internal Medicine Physician, tells Eat This, Not That! Health. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these 19 Ways You're Ruining Your Body, Say Health Experts.
You Are Losing Interest in Activities
Dr. Cherian explains that loss of interest in activities ("in other words, becoming more apathetic") that used to bring you excitement is common in early dementia.
You Are Having New Troubles with Words
Finding the right words (or forgetting the meaning of words) can make it difficult for individuals to follow movies, stories, or even a conversation Dr. Cherian explains. "Also because individuals sometimes forget words it may make some sentences more challenging to understand when they are speaking," he adds.
Your Behavior Is Changing
Sustained changes in a person's normal behavior can also be an early warning sign, according to Dr. Cherian. Examples include a previously shy individual who is now outgoing, or a generally peaceful individual who now is much more prone to outbursts of anger. "Rapid mood swings for no particular reason, becoming more confused or becoming more suspicious in general are also possible signs of early dementia," he says.
Your Judgement Wanes
If your judgement suddenly starts deteriorating, it could be a sign of early dementia. "We hardly realize it in life but most activities in life require good judgment. Tasks that we normally don't have a second thought about such as wearing your reading glasses when you can't see something clearly or putting on a coat when it is cold outside are a few of an endless number of examples that ultimately resulted in poor decision-making and judgment," Dr. Cherian explains.
You Notice Changes in Your Memory
Dementia is most commonly associated with memory loss, but it is a gradual process explains Dr. Cherian. "A person having a tendency to forget things more often or not remember things at all should raise suspicion for early onset dementia," he points out. "Typically these tend to be subtle and involve short-term memory such as forgetting where they put their keys, what they had to eat earlier in the day etc. but oftentimes they have no issues with memories that occurred several years in the past."
You Start to Become Disoriented
Are you losing your sense of direction or notice yourself becoming disoriented? Dr. Cherian says this could be a sign to watch out for. "Is not uncommon for individuals to forget how to drive home for example (or other commonly used routes) or be confused where they are and sometimes even think they are back and some other time of their life," he says. And to get through life at your healthiest, Don't Take This Supplement, Which Can Raise Your Cancer Risk.