Dementia: The early warning sign which is a red flag – make a doctor’s appointment
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Early diagnosis means its progression can be slowed down in some cases, so it is important to spot the signs early. The NHS notes that if you’re becoming increasingly forgetful, particularly if you’re over the age of 65, it’s a good idea to talk to a GP about the early signs of dementia.
Research shows there are more than 850,000 people in the UK who have dementia. One in 14 people over the age of 65 have dementia, and the condition affects one in six people over 80.
Dementia is a syndrome which is associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning, of which there are many different causes.
AgingCare.com says: “Dementia warning signs vary, but memory loss, behaviour changes, and increased confusion are common indicators.”
It says: “Keep an eye out for these red flags to determine if a loved one should seek a comprehensive medical workup and cognitive testing.”
One of these signs includes losing things. Indeed, AgingCare.com says: “A person with dementia may begin to put things in increasingly unusual places.
“Everyone tends to misplace their car and house keys from time to time, but finding ‘lost’ keys in the freezer could indicate a more serious problem.
“A senior may lose things and be unable to use the simple method of retracing their steps to find the missing items. This situation can even escalate into accusations of theft when they cannot find a personal belonging that they have unknowingly misplaced.”
It adds: “This can lead to paranoia, and they may react by placing their things in even more unusual hiding spots to foil the suspected thief.”
The NHS says that dementia symptoms may also include problems with language, such as using words incorrectly, or trouble speaking, as well as movement and difficulties doing daily activities.
It says: “The symptoms of dementia usually become worse over time. In the late stage of dementia, people will not be able to take care of themselves and may lose their ability to communicate.”
Some dementia risk factors are impossible to change, such as age and genetics, however research suggests other risk factors may also be important, and may be possible to change.
The NHS suggests that risk factors such as hearing loss, untreated depression, loneliness or social isolation, or sitting for most of the day, may also be important.
Dementia Australia suggests that although there are certain foods to limit, research currently suggests that a healthy balanced diet is important for everyone, to help prevent other health problems.
Indeed, studies have shown that people with high intakes of saturated and trans fats in their diet “have a higher risk of developing dementia”, while people with a diet including unsaturated fats “have a lower risk”.
Dementia Australia states: “Foods high in saturated fat include butter, lard, meat, full-fat dairy products, coconut oil, palm oil and chocolate. Trans fats are used widely in some fast food, snack foods, fried foods and commercially baked goods like cakes and biscuits.”
It adds: “Try to limit the intake of these foods and choose low fat varieties wherever possible.”
The Alzheimer’s Society notes that mid-life – from your 40s into your early 60s – is a good time to start taking steps to reduce your risk of developing dementia, though it is helpful to take steps at any age.
“The brain changes that cause dementia can start years or even decades before symptoms develop. If you live a healthy lifestyle now, you are reducing the chances that these brain changes will happen,” it adds.
The number of people with dementia is increasing because people are living longer.
By 2025, Dementia UK reports more than one million people will be living with dementia in the UK.
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