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Am I Experiencing the Early Warning Signs of Dementia or Age-Related Memory Loss?

Have you been forgetting where you put your car keys lately? Perhaps you forgot that you had an appointment, which is out of character for you. Either way, with age, it is challenging not to worry when these instances occur. Considering 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s, this disease is a significant public health concern.

Being the only disease in the ten leading causes of death that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed, researchers and the Alzheimer’s community are under immense pressure. The race for a cure has been a long journey. However, it is important that we celebrate each small, yet significant milestone.

The research shows that the earlier you intervene, the better. This is why you need to be familiar with early warning signs so that you can differentiate between

Detecting Early Warning Signs Is the First Step

At this time, the best approach is to focus on preventative measures. To do so, it is also important that you are able to recognize any potential warning signs of dementia. That way, you can intervene in order to benefit from early treatment options. In some cases, symptoms are caused by an unrelated condition or variable, such as a nutritional deficiency or even stress.

In terms of risk factors, age is the greatest contributing factor. However, it is possible to showcase symptoms as early as your 40s or 50s. After all, evidence has shown that some of the brain changes that contribute to dementia can develop up to 25 years before any actual warning signs surface.

Unfortunately, the only genetic test available is for those who have a high risk of developing familial dementia. Since this only represents approximately 7 percent of people with dementia, the majority of patients need to be mindful of warning signs. That is also why we developed the BrainTest® app, an assessment tool that can help you detect these types of early warning signs.

Understanding What Your Memory-Related Symptoms Mean

Those who develop symptoms of dementia often showcase a wide range of warning signs. Of course, the greatest red flags are due to memory issues. However, this condition also causes issues with mood, judgment, language, abstract thinking, orientation, and even personality.

It is true that most individuals over the age of 65 suffer from what is known as age-associated memory impairment. Although this is considered to be a normal part of aging, the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are unique.

The following scenarios help explain what is typically associated with the normal aging process and what is generally affiliated with dementia. Please note, this is NOT a diagnostic tool. Regardless of the scenarios listed below, it is recommended that you seek a professional opinion when experiencing abnormal symptoms. 

  • If you cannot remember the details of a conversation that took place over a year ago, this is likely due to normal aging. However, if you cannot remember key details of recent events, this may be an early warning sign of dementia.

  • It is fairly common to not remember the name of an acquaintance. However, if you are forgetting the names of family members and friends, this may be an early warning sign of dementia.

  • It is normal to struggle every once in awhile when you are trying to find the “right” word. In comparison, if you are often pausing and find it challenging to maintain a flowing conversation, this may be a sign of dementia.

  • If only you are concerned (and not your loved ones), you are likely worried about the normal aging process. However, if your loved ones have expressed concerns but you do not recognize that there is a problem, it is imperative that you put their mind to rest and seek a professional opinion.

The Core Warning Signs of Dementia

At the end of the day, if you are experiencing any or all of the following symptoms, it is important that you take a proactive approach.

  • Memory loss that interferes with your everyday abilities and activities.

  • A reduced ability to perform and complete familiar tasks, such as making a meal.

  • Issues with language (which will be most noticeable when speaking to others).

  • Becoming disorientated in terms of both time and space. For example, not knowing what day of the week it is or becoming lost in a familiar place.

  • Impaired judgment (your loved ones will likely express concerns).

  • Significant mood changes, as well as personality changes.

  • A loss of interest in friends, work, and/or hobbies.

  • Misplacing things, only to find them in odd places (i.e. putting your iron in the fridge).

For more information on the importance of early intervention, please refer to this great resource: Early Intervention Is Key (Here Is How to Spot Alzheimer’s In Those You Love.

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