One of the worst parts of the diagnosis and early stages of dementia is the realization that the disease is taking hold. Those with dementia hide it for many reasons, and dignity is not the least of them. In some cases, the person doesn’t realize they are exhibiting the early signs of dementia and this called anosognosia, meaning a lack of awareness of impairment. LivHOME companions are a valuable resource when it comes to ensuring that those in the early stages of dementia are safe and secure, and experience as little anxiety as possible.
Here are some of the early signs and symptoms of dementia.
Changes in behavior
The early dementia patient may suddenly refuse to participate in an activity they once loved, or forget how to participate at all. It may involve refusal to do a simple chore such as washing the dishes, or play a game they once loved like cards or board games. . Activities that they once loved may seem foreign to them now, and relearning them may be impossible.
Covering up problems
The patient and his or her spouse may cover up problems associated with dementia. They may make excuses for the state of housekeeping, mail piling up or dishes in the sink. The spouse may finish sentences for the ailing partner, or make excuses for their forgetfulness.
Many people will deny the early signs of dementia, a fact that is easy to understand. They will insist they are fine, there is no problem, they always put their keys in the coffee can for safety. They will find ways to excuse repeatedly getting lost on familiar routes or forgetting long standing appointments. Singularly these can be excused, but together with other symptoms these may be indicative of the early stages of dementia.
Individuals will go to great lengths to cover up physical and mental decline. The overriding fear is one of losing independence and being removed from their home. Some studies indicate that people who have a high intellect and more education can cover up the signs of dementia for a longer period of time than others. They can even deny it to themselves longer. Of course, many who have not had higher education are very clever and can cover up memory slips with ease. No two people are the same, so adult children should be on the lookout for signs of deterioration in their parents.
Lack of awareness of impairment
This can be even more dangerous than a cover up. People who are unaware that they are becoming increasingly impaired may put themselves in danger by continuing to participate in daily activities without support. Anosognosia is a lack of awareness of impairment and it affects up to 81% of those with Alzheimer’s. Anosognosia is still difficult to define, but researchers know it results from anatomical changes or damage to the part of the brain that affects perception of one’s own illness.