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6 warning signs of dementia everyone should know

Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of different conditions which gradually get worse over time.

Yolanthe Fawehinmi,Lisa Salmon
Saturday 16 December 2023 11:22 GMT
Five tips to reduce risk of getting dementia, according to Dr Amir Khan

One in 10 deaths in the UK were due to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, a charity has announced.

Alzheimer’s Research UK, which has a goal of finding a cure for the illnesses, has asked for any drugs “deemed safe and effective” to treat the disease to be made available on the NHS as soon as possible.

Their research found that 74,261 people died from dementia and Alzheimer’s (the most common form of dementia) in 2022, compared with 69,178 in 2021. More than 48,000 were women, it said.

“Symptoms of Alzheimer’s are usually mild at the beginning and gradually worsen over time. People can experience issues with memory, concentration and speech; this can all culminate in the person withdrawing from social and family circles,” a spokesperson for Dementia UK, the specialist dementia nursing charity, said.

Here are some of the warning signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s everyone should know.

One in 10 deaths in the UK were due to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, a charity has announced (Alamy/PA)

1. Mood changes

According to the NHS, dementia is not a natural part of ageing and there are other symptoms people should keep in mind, including the change in mood.

But people may not identify these symptoms right away, and family and friends may not notice or take them seriously for some time. In some people, these symptoms will remain the same and not worsen. Others with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) will go on to develop dementia.

2. Finding it hard to learn new things

Dr Tim Beanland, head of knowledge at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “If I got a new piece of tech or kit, it might take me a long tome to set it up, but I think I’d get there by following the instructions. But if you’ve got dementia, learning how to use a new appliance or device is really difficult.”

(Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

3. Repeated questioning

For example, if your partner tells you they’re going out in the evening but you forget what time they said they were coming back, that’s probably nothing to worry about.

“But if you’ve got dementia, you probably won’t remember something somebody told you five or 10 minutes ago, and you might ask them with repeat questioning,” said Beanland.

“For a family member it can be quite annoying – obviously it’s not the person with dementia’s fault, but they may ask you the same question over and over. That is suggestive of a problem which might be dementia and is the kind of thing I would go to the doctor about.”

4. Putting objects in strange places

Forgetting where you have put your keys or mobile phone is fine. But when you have dementia, it’s common to put things in strange places, said Beanland. “You might put your house keys in your bathroom cabinet, for example. It’s a bit weird, but it’s the kind of thing people with dementia might do.”

5. Difficulty with organisation

Organising yourself on some occasions can be difficult, especially as you get older. This could also mean that it takes longer to manage the budget or pay bills, for example. “But if you’ve got dementia, people really struggle, losing the ability to be organised and plan ahead,” said Beanland.

However, it’s important to keep in mind what’s always been ‘normal’ for you – because it’s more about spotting changes.

“If you’ve always been rubbish with the bills or have never had a good memory, you’re not going to get better as you get older, but it’s normal for you,” noted Beanland.

6. Struggling with daily life

If you’ve got dementia, your symptoms will mean you struggle with day-to-day life, Beanland stressed.

“It’s that change from normal into these symptoms which get in the way of daily life, so you struggle to have a conversation and to organise things, you struggle to remember where you’ve parked the car, things like that. These are not just annoyances, they can really affect your ability to get on and do things.”

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