Recognizing the early signs of dementia
Dementia is the progressive loss of one’s social and intellectual abilities. While Alzheimer’s is the most well-known form, there are other kinds of dementia too. Dementia is a disease that often progresses slowly, and is not always easy to detect. The person’s loved ones are often the first to notice changes in their behaviour.
Early signs of dementia
Your dad can’t remember what he had for dinner last night. Is it a sign of dementia or just a memory lapse? It can be hard to tell the two apart. Here are a few signs to watch for:
- Memory loss that affects daily life: the person forgets events or has trouble remembering newly learned information
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks: the person can’t remember how to do tasks they’ve done all their lives, such as getting dressed
- Language problems: forgetting words or using them incorrectly
- Disorientation with regard to time and place: the person gets lost in a familiar environment or doesn’t know what day it is
- Poor judgment: the person makes irrational decisions
- Difficulty understanding abstract notions
- Putting things away in irrational places: for example, putting their shoes in the fridge
- Change in behaviour or mood: the person has sudden mood swings
- Change in personality: the person behaves in a manner out of character, for example becomes paranoid or feels threatened
- Loss of initiative: the person becomes detached from their family or no longer shows an interest in their favourite activities
There is currently no cure for dementia. Treatments aim to slow the progress of the disease and lessen behavioural and mood changes. It’s important to have realistic expectations and accept that the disease will continue its course.
If the doctor has prescribed a treatment, your pharmacist will be there to provide guidance throughout the process. In addition to giving advice if any adverse side effects arise, he or she will ensure there is no incompatibility between the medication prescribed for dementia and any other medication the person is taking. Consult the pharmacist before purchasing an over-the-counter medication or natural health product as many products are not suitable for people suffering from dementia.
If your loved one is taking more than one medication, talk to their pharmacist to synchronize their medication renewal dates. This will save you repeated trips to the pharmacy and make it easier to manage their medications.
Your pharmacist can also assist you in your role as caregiver, and can refer you to support networks, as needed.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.