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Is It Dementia? Key Symptoms, Diagnosis Tips, and In-Home Care Solutions

As we age, it's natural to experience some changes in memory and thinking. But when these changes become more pronounced, they might signal something more serious: dementia. While Alzheimer’s disease is the most widely known form of dementia, this condition comes in many forms that affect nearly 1 in 10 Americans over 65

Understanding the early signs of dementia can help families seek the right support and care for their loved ones. At ComForCare, we’re proud to provide in-home dementia care that creates better days for people with cognitive impairments. That’s why we’re here to help you recognize these signs and know when to take action.

Early Warning Signs of Dementia

It can be difficult to recognize the early signs of dementia, especially since they can be subtle and vary from person to person. If you notice multiple of the following common signs or pronounced changes in a loved one, it’s best to seek an evaluation.

Memory Loss

Memory loss, especially short-term memory, is one of the most common early signs of dementia. People might forget recently learned information, important dates, or events. They may repeatedly ask for the same information and rely more on memory aids like paper notes or electronic devices.

Difficulty Performing Familiar Tasks

People with dementia often face challenges completing daily tasks they once did effortlessly. This can include trouble managing a budget, following a recipe, or keeping track of a favorite game.

Problems with Language

If a person begins struggling to find the right words, following or joining a conversation, and repeating themselves frequently, these could be signs of language problems associated with dementia. They might also call things by the wrong name, like calling a watch a "hand clock."

Disorientation to Time & Place

Losing track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time is common in early dementia. Individuals may forget where they are or how they got there and might have trouble understanding something if it isn’t happening immediately.

Poor Judgment

Dementia can affect judgment and decision-making. This symptom might show up as making poor financial decisions, neglecting personal hygiene, or failing to recognize dangerous situations.

Changes in Mood & Personality

Sudden mood swings, increased irritability, anxiety, or depression can be early indicators of dementia. Someone might become easily upset in unfamiliar places or when their routine is disrupted. The key to watch for here is a change from their usual personality.

Withdrawal from Work or Social Activities

People with early dementia may start to withdraw from hobbies, social activities, or other engagements that they once loved. They might avoid these activities because they find it hard to keep up with them or feel embarrassed about the changes they’re experiencing.

Challenges Understanding Visual & Spatial Relationships

Dementia can make it difficult to understand visual information and spatial relationships. This can affect driving, judging distances, or recognizing faces and objects.

Early Signs of Dementia in Men

While the symptoms of dementia are generally the same across genders, some studies suggest that men might experience certain signs more prominently. They may show more behavioral changes, such as aggression or increased irritability, and may be less likely to seek help or acknowledge their symptoms. 

It's important for family members to be vigilant and encourage medical evaluation if they notice these changes. Though Alzheimer’s Disease disproportionately affects women, men are at a higher risk for other forms of dementia like vascular dementia and multi-infarct dementia

Is Dementia Hereditary?

Many people worry about whether dementia is hereditary. The truth is, the risk of developing dementia can be influenced by genetics, but it is not solely determined by them. Certain types of dementia, like early-onset Alzheimer's disease, have a stronger genetic link. However, lifestyle factors, such as diet, exercise, and social engagement, also play a significant role in determining risk.

Getting an Accurate Diagnosis

If you notice any of these signs or changes in a loved one, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation. Diagnosing dementia typically involves:

  • Medical History: Reviewing the patient's medical history and any reported symptoms
  • Physical Examination: Checking for underlying conditions that might be causing symptoms
  • Cognitive and Neuropsychological Tests: Assessing memory, problem-solving, attention, language, and other cognitive abilities
  • Lab Tests: Ruling out other possible causes of symptoms like thyroid problems, medication interactions, or vitamin deficiencies
  • Brain Imaging: Using CT or MRI scans to look for signs of stroke, tumors, or other brain issues

An early and accurate diagnosis can make a significant difference in a person’s care. Knowing early on can help you manage the condition better and make plans for the future that align with your loved one’s preferences.

When to Seek In-Home Dementia Care

Everyone wants the best for their loved ones, but caring for someone with dementia can be an overwhelming and demanding task to do alone. In-home dementia care can provide the necessary support and improve the quality of life of both the individual and their family. Consider seeking in-home dementia care when:

  • Safety Becomes a Concern: If your loved one is at risk of wandering, falling, or unable to manage daily tasks safely
  • Increased Care Needs: As dementia progresses, the level of care needed can exceed what family members can provide
  • Caregiver Stress: If the primary caregiver is experiencing burnout or stress, professional care can provide much-needed relief
  • Behavioral Changes: Managing aggression, anxiety, or other behavioral issues can be challenging without professional help

How ComForCare Can Help

At ComForCare, we specialize in providing compassionate in-home dementia care tailored to each individual's unique needs. Our caregivers are trained to support those with dementia, helping them maintain independence and dignity in the comfort of their own homes. We offer complete in-home care services, including personal care, medication management, companionship, and respite care for family members.

Understanding the signs of dementia and knowing when to seek professional help can make a meaningful difference in the life of your loved one. If you’re concerned about the early signs of dementia in a family member, don’t hesitate to reach out to ComForCare for guidance and support. Together, we can deliver the full care and attention they need.

Choose ComForCare’s DementiaWise® Trained Caregivers

ComForCare empowers caregivers to provide the best possible care through our DementiaWise training program, which is recognized by the Alzheimer’s Association. For more information about our in-home dementia care services, find your nearest location, or contact us today. We’re here to help you and your loved one navigate this journey with compassion and expertise.

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