10 Early Signs of Dementia: Do You Have Them?
Forgetfulness is common as we age. But serious or unusual memory loss is an early sign of dementia. With cognitive decline, it can be hard to tell what is caused by normal aging and which memory problems or behavioral changes are a form of dementia.
Increasingly, many physicians are now including advanced brain imaging from head CT scans to NeuroQuant® 3D Image Processing as diagnostic tools to confirm dementia. American Health Imaging will work with you and your physicians to determine if brain imaging can help you.
What Is dementia?
Dementia is a generic term covering a range of disorders caused by abnormal brain conditions. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Different types of dementia are caused by problems in the brain that include abnormal proteins or stroke. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) may also be related to later development of dementia.
The 10 early warning signs of dementia
Especially in its early stages, the signs of dementia may appear like normal aging or absent-mindedness. But as it progresses, most people with dementia exhibit many, if not all, of these 10 warning signs.
- Memory loss affecting everyday life, including an inability to retain new information and asking the same questions over and over
- Difficulty performing familiar tasks, like struggling to remember how to cook or forgetting the rules of a favorite game
- Language problems, such as trouble finding the right word or following a conversation
- Confusion with time and space, like forgetting what day or year it is, or getting lost in their own neighborhood
- Impaired judgment, like making bad financial decisions or wearing the wrong clothes
- Problems with abstract thinking, or not remembering basic math while balancing a bank account
- Misplacing things, like putting car keys in the freezer or refrigerated items in the cabinet.
- Mood and behavioral changes, like crying or raging suddenly for seemingly no reason.
- Personality changes, including confusion, paranoia, depression or intense fear.
- Changes in activity, losing interest in hobbies or withdrawing from friends.
Why early detection of dementia matters
Most types of dementia are incurable. This can often result in treatment delays, as neither the person with symptoms nor family members want to face the possible diagnosis. However, many other conditions can cause symptoms that appear like dementia but are not. These include:
- Alcohol abuse
- Brain tumors
- Hearing loss
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Sleep disorders
- Thyroid disease
It is important to see a healthcare provider as soon as any symptoms appear out of the ordinary. Early diagnosis may not be able to cure the disease, but early treatment is often more effective at delaying symptoms and prolonging life. Also, patients may be eligible for research studies that they would not be if the disease has advanced. This can make a difference not just for the patient but for other families dealing with the same condition.
Types of dementia
While many symptoms overlap, not every type of dementia is the same. The most frequently diagnosed forms of dementia include:
- Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, caused by abnormal buildups of certain brain proteins and can be diagnosed as early-onset in people in their 40s and 50s
- Frontotemporal dementia, more likely to affect younger people and cause behavioral changes but not memory loss
- Lewy body dementia, caused by abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein, also known as Lewy bodies
- Mixed dementia, a mixture of two types of dementia (often Alzheimer’s and vascular)
- Vascular dementia, caused by damage to the blood vessels in the brain
Different types of dementia respond differently to treatment options, so it is important to get a correct diagnosis.
Trust brain imaging at American Health Imaging for detecting dementia
If you or a loved one is showing early signs of dementia, your doctor will first try to rule out other possible causes with a physical exam, bloodwork and cognitive testing. If a possible dementia diagnosis is suspected, your doctor will order brain scans, which may include several different types of imaging.
At AHI, we provide all the imaging in one place at our convenient locations across the southeast. Advanced imaging provides quantified measurements of your brain tissue, as knowing the loss of brain volume can help doctors determine how far a neurological condition has progressed. Our costs are often much more affordable than hospital imaging, and we offer evening and weekend hours that work with your schedule.
If you or a loved one may be experiencing early signs of dementia, AHI’s NeuroQuant 3D Image Processing may be able to help with a diagnosis. Request an appointment today.