These 4 Common Behaviours Can Be Early Dementia Red Flags

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are currently 900,000 people living with dementia in the UK and this is projected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040.

Alzheimer’s can be a slow-burner and the signs of it are often missed until they’re in later stages. Alzheimer’s Research UK has stated that, in terms of treatment and research, if nothing changes, the condition will affect 1 in 2 of us – either by receiving a diagnosis ourselves, caring for a loved one with dementia, or both.

This is why knowing the early signs is crucial to ensure that people are referred to a memory clinic for a full investigation, potential diagnosis and treatment.

Alzheimer’s Research UK has collated some of these early signs.

Early, hidden signs of dementia

Emotion and mood

Low mood and anxiety are reportedly common early symptoms, specifically if people are anxious about going to a new place or meeting people. This can be harder to spot because, of course, we are all susceptible to low moods and periods of anxiety.

Alzheimer’s Research UK also highlighted that in some types of dementia, like frontotemporal dementia, changes to behaviour – like a loss of empathy – and sense of humour, or becoming angry can be early signs too.

Changes in movement 

Before memory and thinking problems occur, some people experience changes in movement. These can include problems with gait, difficulty with coordination, increased unsteadiness or even limb stiffness.

Visual disturbances

According to Alzheimer’s Research UK: “Some people may begin to experience visual disturbances. These symptoms are common in Alzheimer’s disease alongside memory problems, but can be the main issues in two different types of dementia, called dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and posterior cortical atrophy (PCA – a type of Alzheimer’s disease).”

These can include hallucinations of people or objects that aren’t present but look very real to the person experiencing the hallucination. In PCA, visual problems with judging depth or making out shapes, making it difficult to navigate steps or stairs.

Changes in communication

In conversation, there may be pauses, problems with finding the right words or putting sentences together. These can be related to aphasia, a word used to describe problems with understanding words, speaking, reading, and writing.

These symptoms can be caused by Alzheimer’s disease, but problems with communication can also be caused by a rarer type of dementia called frontotemporal dementia.

If you, or somebody you love, is showing early signs of dementia, the charity has a guide on getting a diagnosis.