Dementia symptoms: The difference between dementia signs and age-related changes

Dementia: Dr Sara on benefits of being in nature

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Alzheimer’s and dementia cause a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. People often pass these things off as age-related change, so it’s hard to tell the difference. Getting diagnosed with dementia as soon as you spot the symptoms is important, but you also should be assured that some things that look like dementia aren’t always dementia. Express.co.uk explores signs of dementia and age-related change, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

It’s normal for your memory to be affected by stress, tiredness, certain illnesses and medicines, but dementia is not a part of healthy ageing.

If you’re becoming increasingly forgetful, particularly if you’re over the age of 65, the NHS advice is to talk to a GP about the early signs of dementia.

With early detection, it’s easier to treat some of the symptoms of dementia.

And dementia symptoms are not exclusively related to memory loss, so it is important to be aware of other signs of dementia too.

Dementia symptoms

The symptoms of dementia differ depending on what type you have, but generally, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, some of the main early symptoms are:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgement
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • Changes in mood and personality

According to the NHS, symptoms of dementia may include problems with:

  • Memory loss
  • Thinking speed
  • Mental sharpness and quickness
  • Language, such as using words incorrectly, or having trouble speaking
  • Understanding
  • Judgement
  • Mood
  • Movement
  • Difficulties doing daily activities

It is important to stop and think about the degree to which these things affect you.

You may actually just be experiencing age-related changes to your brain.

A way of differentiating between the two is to assess which of the following lists applies more to you, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Signs of Alzheimer’s and Dementia:

  • Poor judgment and decision-making
  • Inability to manage a budget
  • Losing track of the date or the season
  • Difficulty having a conversation
  • Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them

Signs of typical Age-Related Change:

  • Making a bad decision once in a while
  • Missing a monthly payment
  • Forgetting which day it is and remembering it later
  • Sometimes forgetting which word to use
  • Losing things from time to time

Anyone concerned about their health should discuss their symptoms with a doctor.

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