Dementia primarily affects older people because of the increased risk brought on by old age. However, dementia can also affect younger people. Dementia has a number of different marked stages, although signs and symptoms of the early stages can vary greatly between individuals and can also be present in many other non-related conditions making initial diagnosis quite difficult.
What to Look For
Early indications of the onset of Dementia can include a decline in the ability to concentrate, make decisions, retain recently acquired information, and follow simple instructions. This is a result of a loss of short-term memory. Long-term memory is not usually affected at this stage. People can also become irritable or depressed, which is more of a result of dealing with the short-term memory issues, rather than as a direct result of the condition itself. Friends and relatives may notice these changes without understanding why, and before it is apparent to other people.
As time progresses, you may start to exibit signs of a deteriation in practical everyday skills. These may include tasks such as cleaning, personal hygiene, use of technology (TV, vacuum cleaner, washing machine), and job related activities. At this time, you may also develop neurological abnormalities such as epilepsy. Increasingly disorientation, speech and writing problems, and a loss of familiarity with people or surroundings becomes apparent, and memory loss continues with a wider range of time and skill based functions becoming affected.
If there is reason to believe that you, or a close friend or family member may have dementia, a local GP should be contacted for assessment.