Dementia signs that people keep to themselves

One in three people who notice symptoms of dementia in themselves or a loved one keep their fears to themselves for a month or longer, an Alzheimer's Society survey in the UK found.

Only 15% of people living dementia brought up the issue straight away, while 11% still haven’t raised their worries after spotting the first symptom.

Confusing dementia symptoms with normal ageing was the top reason people stayed silent (64%), followed by not wanting to worry their loved one (33%), and fears of how their relationships might change (16%).

“We can’t continue to avoid the ‘d’ word – we need to face dementia head on,” said Kate Lee, CEO of UK-based Alzheimer’s Society.

 

According to Dementia Australia, signs that you or a loved one may be experiencing dementia—and not just normal ageing—include:

Recent memory loss that affects job skills

It is normal to forget meetings, colleagues' names, or a business associate's telephone number occasionally, but then remember them later. A person with dementia may forget things more often, and not remember them later.

Difficulty performing familiar tasks

Busy people can be so distracted from time to time that they may leave the carrots on the stove and only remember to serve them when the meal has finished. A person with dementia might prepare a meal and not only forget to serve it, but also forget they made it.

Problems with language

Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes. A person with dementia may forget simple words or substitute inappropriate words.

Disorientation of time and place

It is normal to forget the day of the week or your destination for a moment. People with dementia can become lost on their own street, not know where they are, how they got there or how to get back home.

Poor or decreased judgement

Dementia affects a person's memory and concentration and this in turn affects their judgement. Many activities, such as driving, require good judgement and when this ability is affected, the person will be a risk, not only to themselves, but to others on the road.

Problems with abstract thinking

Managing finances can be difficult for anyone. A person with dementia may have trouble knowing what the numbers means or what to do with them.

Misplacing things

Anyone can temporarily misplace a wallet or keys. A person with dementia may repeatedly put things in inappropriate places.

Changes in mood or behaviour

Everyone becomes sad or moody from time to time. Someone with dementia can have rapid mood swings from calm to tears to anger, for no apparent reason.

Changes in personality

People's personalities can change a little with age. A person with dementia can become suspicious or fearful, or just apathetic and uncommunicative.  They may also become dis-inhibited, over-familiar or more outgoing than previously.

Loss of initiative

It is normal to tire of housework, business activities or social obligations. The person with dementia may become very passive and require cues prompting them to become involved.

Consulting a doctor to obtain a diagnosis is critical at an early stage.

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A special thanks to our contributors

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Caroline Egan

DCM Media, agedcare101

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the Villages.com.au and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

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Ian Horswill

Journalist

Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, villages.com.au and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

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Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for villages.com.au, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

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Jill Donaldson

Physiotherapist

Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

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Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

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Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.