There are many different types of dementia, each with unique early symptoms and subtle signs. Being aware can help you catch developing dementia early, which may allow you to slow disease progression.
Although memory change is often the focus of dementia, Alzheimer’s can present itself in very different ways. For some people, they may begin to make mistakes with their medication management. You may notice some people begin to repeat themselves in conversation or often struggle to find the words they want to say. Another sign that may go unnoticed is that someone may start to get into minor car accidents due to changes in their perception of space, forgetting routes they take, or getting lost because they forget where they were headed in the first place.
Individuals with Alzheimer’s usually do not think they have problems with their thinking. They may become defensive about changes that seem obvious to others. This type of dementia is the most well known and most diagnosed.
Lewy Body Dementia
Lewy body dementia is the second most diagnosed dementia, and is closely related to Parkinson’s disease. What sets it apart from Parkinson’s disease is that cognitive changes begin before noticeable changes in motor movements, or about the same time. Examples of common motor changes are tremors, rigidity, or slowness in walking. Subtle signs also include fluctuating alertness during the day, starting to take naps more frequently than in the past, and seeming tired despite said naps.
They may also begin to develop visual hallucinations of people or animals they have lost. Other signs include constipation, sweating more frequently, or feeling cold more often, frequent falls, and reduced sense of smell.
Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)
Behavior changes are a key marker of Frontotemporal Dementia. These changes usually occur earlier in age – 40 to 65 – versus Alzheimer’s where symptoms present slightly later.
Behavior changes can be more impulsive such as spending excessive money or developing addictions to porn, gambling, or video games, inconsistent with past behaviors.
FTD can also make a person seem more withdrawn. They may stop talking as much in conversations, show childlike characteristics, and demonstrate a lack of empathy toward others.
What to remember
Remember just because you have a lapse in your memory one day, forget a name on occasion, or have trouble finding the word you want to say in conversation from time to time, it does not always mean you are developing dementia. Many factors can impact our thinking sporadically such as poor sleep, not eating enough, getting too much sun exposure, missing a medication dose, having an infection, etc. But if you suspect that you may have an issue, it is important to remember that early detection can lead to a better and safer quality of life before losing the capacity to make