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Changes in Behavior That Might Be a Sign of Dementia

Changes in Behavior That Might Be a Sign of Dementia

Memory loss is the sign of dementia most of us are familiar with. When a senior loved one begins forgetting names, appointments, and even where they live, we know there is a problem. Other symptoms might be overlooked or shrugged off as a normal part of aging. This is even more likely if an older adult lives alone.

What changes in a senior loved one might be signs of Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia?

Here are a few early signs of a memory-related condition.

Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia

  • Difficulty finding words
  • Trouble writing
  • Problems managing bills
  • Forgetting important appointments
  • Quick to anger
  • Becoming tearful easily
  • Misplacing items in strange locations
  • Inability to remember names
  • Change in hygiene habits
  • Becoming suspicious or paranoid
  • Withdrawing from social circles
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Falling victim to fraud

While this is by no means a complete list, these signs and changes are most common in the early stages of dementia. If your senior loved one is exhibiting any of these, it’s worth discussing with a physician. The doctor will likely rule out other health problems with symptoms that are easily mistaken for dementia, such as a vitamin deficiency or a thyroid disorder.

Diagnosing Dementia

If the physician suspects dementia, they will likely conduct a physical and order a series of tests. The process often includes:

  • Medical history: The physician will ask questions to learn about the senior’s family medical history and their own lifestyle choices. They may also ask what changes you’ve witnessed. Factors such as diet, sleep patterns, alcohol consumption, and smoking may also be covered.
  • Physical exam: A comprehensive physical examination is also essential. In addition to checking blood pressure, weight, and temperature, the senior’s memory and problem-solving skills will also be evaluated. This is typically done by asking questions that force the senior to rely on short-term memory and/or presenting them with problems to solve. They may screen for depression, as it can also mimic Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Blood tests: Because other health conditions share similar symptoms, blood tests will likely be ordered. This allows the doctor to check for infections, thyroid problems, and vitamin deficiencies. Since dementia doesn’t have a definitive test, physicians rely on eliminating other potential causes.
  • Spinal tap: In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approved biomarker tests for Alzheimer’s disease that use cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF is collected through a spinal tap. While this isn’t always a part of the process, it may be utilized if the physician feels it is necessary for an accurate diagnosis.
  • Brain imaging: Scans of the brain are another important tool in diagnosis. The images will show if the brain is shrinking while allowing the medical team to check for other neurological conditions. A brain aneurysm, tumor, nerve damage, or stroke can all be detected through brain imaging.

If the issue is a type of dementia, it’s important for families to know quality memory care is available. These specialized programs allow seniors to live their best life despite the disease. Life enrichment activities and thoughtfully designed environments are just two benefits of memory care.

Call (853) 457-8271 to speak to a Five Star Senior Living memory care expert today!


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