Early warning signs of Dementia – do you know someone at risk?

early warning signs dementia dr leong

Early warning signs of Dementia. AUTHOR: Dr Sir-Kit Leong

In my years  of general practice, I have witnessed how dementia affects not only the patient, but also their family members and friends. It can be heartbreaking to see your loved one go through this debilitating disease so recognising the early warning signs is important. With early diagnosis and intervention we can improve the quality of life for both the person living with dementia and their family.

 For this reason, I’m encouraging you to act if you have noticed some changes in someone you know or love.

Dementia is a condition that affects brain function, causing it to deteriorate with time. The most common type is Alzheimer’s disease, but other forms of dementia include vascular dementia, fronto-temporal lobe dementia and Lewy body dementia. Dementia can present in variety of ways, at times insidious in nature and could evolve over a period of time. 

Here are some of the typical early warning signs to look for:

  1. Short term memory loss or becoming more forgetful.
  2. Difficulties with daily activities (chores, driving, bills, self-care). They may  take longer to do things, or may struggle to do new things or routines.  
  3. Out of character  personality and behavioural changes, such as depression, abrupt mood change and  exaggerated response to simple matters.
  4. Confusion – this may include trouble finding the right words to communicate, or difficulty explaining things.
  5. Apathy – they may seem emotionally ‘flat’.  The person may lose interest in hobbies and withdrawn from spending time with friends or family.
  6. Repetitive in their thoughts or actions and easily disengaged from flow of conversation

If you think someone you know is at risk, a good place to start is to consult your GP for advice on how to approach the situation. The key to helping someone with dementia is achieve the diagnosis early.  

With current existing community services, medical treatment and new research, it is possible to improve the overall health of the person living with dementia.

Alzheimer’s Australia is an excellent starting point to find out more about dementia. Click here to learn more.

National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 offers support for carers/people looking after person with dementia.

I encourage you to utilise these resources and hopefully, we shall continue to improve the health of people with dementia in years to come.

Dr Sir-Kit Leong is GP at SmartClinics Medical Centre in Ascot, with interest in Chronic Disease Management and Elderly Health Care.

New patients welcome.