The most frequent early signs of dementia include depression, forgetfulness, abrupt mood swings, and a loss of inhibition. Many people who are experiencing these troublesome psychological symptoms withdraw from friends and loved ones. They often deny that anything is wrong with them, which can delay diagnosis and make treatment difficult to manage. Early signs of dementia often mimic other illnesses, so it is important to visit a doctor whenever these symptoms are present.
Memory loss is one of the most common warning signs. While most people forget small things on occasion, such as a misplaced item or to return a phone call to a friend, the impairment is usually limited to minor forgetfulness. Even though the location of an item is unknown, or a phone call is not made, people still remember that the item or the friend exists. In contrast, those exhibiting early signs of dementia may not recall anything about the ownership of a missing object, and a friend may suddenly become a stranger. This often leads to overwhelming confusion.
It is also common that a person suffering from dementia will tell the same story over and over, to the same individual, and not remember that a similar conversation had recently taken place. This is often troubling when a loved one first notices the pattern. Language and vocabulary problems are also quite common. Early signs of dementia often include improper use of certain words, making communication difficult. Even simple phrases may become problematic.
A person’s judgment and reaction time may be affected by the condition as well. Driving often becomes complicated because the person suffering from early signs of dementia may not remember how to return home, even when traveling down once-familiar streets. It can also be a dangerous activity. For example, the affected person may mistake the brake pedal for the gas pedal, or vice-versa. The ability to concentrate on basic tasks may also be hampered.
Psychological factors, such as mood disorders and changes in behavior patterns, are frequently seen in dementia patients. Trust issues often develop and paranoia is common. The person may believe that loved ones, or even strangers, are attempting to cause harm. Consequently, sufferers can withdraw from activities or social events. This usually contributes to feelings of apathy and isolation.
Some people also suffer from a complete loss of inhibition as a result of the illness. Inappropriate conduct, such as undressing in public or other shocking behavior may occur. This type of action may be an alarming signal that something is wrong, especially if the person has a history of modesty and suddenly acts completely out of character.