By Dara Kushnir
You may find it difficult determining whether you or someone you know is experiencing typical age-related changes or early symptoms of dementia. Dementia affects a person’s language and reasoning abilities, communication, and focus. Remembering where you last left your keys or forgetting an appointment once in a while does happen and does not necessarily mean you have dementia.
Being aware of early signs of dementia can help you figure out if you would need to schedule an appointment with a neurologist for further testing. A person may experience:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life. Individuals with dementia may be able to remember an event twenty years ago, but have trouble remembering what they did earlier in the day or important dates. They repeatedly ask for the same information and begin to rely on electronic devices or family members for reminders. While those who are going through typical age-changes do forget things, they are later able to remember them or retrace their steps.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks. As individuals with dementia get older, they occasionally need help with tasks such as working a microwave. Those with dementia often have difficulty with daily tasks such as driving to a familiar place or remembering how to do a favorite craft.
- Confusion with time and place. Individuals with dementia may not recognize landmarks or places that were familiar. Individuals in the later stages of dementia can understand what is happening currently, but not tomorrow or yesterday. Individuals with early stages of dementia may have difficulty remembering what day, date, or even year it is.
- Poor judgement. Everyone makes a bad decision once in a while. Those with dementia can experience changes in decision-making, which can lead to bad financial decisions such as spending an excessive amount of money on clothing or food. They may also pay less attention to hygiene.
- Changes in mood and personality. Individuals with dementia can become confused, suspicious, frustrated, or angry in situations where they are out of their comfort zone or even at familiar places, at home, or with friends. These changes go beyond feeling annoyed toward a disruption in routine.
- Problems with speaking or writing. Individuals may find it hard to follow conversations or storylines, struggle to find the right words, or even say the same thing in a short timespan.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities. Due to the changes individuals start to experience, they may withdraw themselves from social activities, work, or hobbies. They may find it difficult to remember how to interact in social settings or complete tasks.
If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from dementia, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.