Residents in Greater Manchester are being urged to know the 10 telltale signs of dementia as the country marks Dementia Action Week.
The Alzheimer’s Society in the city-region is encouraging people to know how to spot that someone they know may be developing the memory-loss condition.
The charity also reassured people that support is available for those coming to terms with a diagnosis and living with dementia.
What are the 10 signs of dementia?
The 10 signs that the Alzheimer’s Society says people should look out for as a possible indication of dementia are:
1. Forgetting things more frequently
For someone with dementia, problems with memory and thinking get worse quicker than they would normally do with age, with noticeable decline over a period of months as opposed to years.
2. Losing track of date and time
If you find yourself getting lost in a familiar place or being unable to find your way home, this can also be a red flag and you should mention it to your GP.
Some people also experience ‘time shifts’, where they may think they’re still living in a previous house, particularly if it’s one where they felt most ‘at home’.
3. Not finding the right words
Struggling to find the right words but remembering them eventually is a fairly common part of ageing. However, frequent problems finding the right word or regularly referring to objects as “that thing” can be a sign of dementia.
People with the condition can experience issues with language that can vary from day to day or be more or less of a problem at different times of the day.
4. Becoming withdrawn and less social
The symptoms of dementia can cause a person to become more withdrawn from work, friends or family as it makes interacting socially with other people much more difficult and tiring, and it can also hit a person’s confidence hard.
Conversations may be harder to follow, especially in noisy environments, so, it can be tempting for a person with dementia to want to stay at home.
5. Finding it hard to complete familiar tasks
For someone with dementia, familiar tasks they’ve done all their lives may start to get difficult to do. They may also lose the ability to carry out tasks in the proper order, like trying to cook pasta before putting the water in.
6. Putting things in unusual places
We all misplace our belongings around the home now and again, but generally find them before too long. People with dementia do this more often but also put objects in unusual places, for example putting the house keys in the fridge.
7. Difficulty understanding what you see
It’s totally normal for someone’s eyesight not to be as sharp as it was when they were younger, but people having issues reading text, even with glasses on, should speak to their GP.
Some people with dementia have difficulty judging distances or seeing edges clearly, causing trips or falls. Dementia sometimes causes hallucinations or seeing, hearing or smelling things that aren’t there. This is most common in people living with dementia with Lewy bodies, a less common type of the disease.
8. Trouble making informed and careful decisions
If a person finds they’re making a lot of poor decisions, either because they can’t process information like they used to or because their personality seems to have changed a lot over just a few months, it could be a sign that they need to see their doctor.
9. Regularly getting distracted and losing focus
While getting distracted or zoning out might not necessarily lead to anything worse than embarrassment, if someone keeps forgetting the names of common objects, forgetting words or quickly losing the thread of what someone is saying, it could be a sign of dementia.
10. Changes in mood and behaviour
If you or someone you know is starting to become easily irritable, losing interest in things, or has extreme highs and lows of mood this may also be a sign of dementia.
What has the Alzheimer’s Society said?
The Alzheimer’s Society says there are an estimated 30,000 people living with dementia in Greater Manchester but it is feared that across the UK tens of thousands of people are living with the condition but without a diagnosis.
The charity is trying to encouragement people to come forward and seek help if they are experiencing signs of the disease.
It also wants to assure people that there is help out there for anyone who needs it.
Gill Lloyd, a dementia adviser for the Alzheimer’s Society in Greater Manchester, said: “Every three minutes in the UK someone develops dementia, but right now diagnosis rates are at a five-year low due to the pandemic.
“We know some people can be put off seeking a diagnosis for a number of reasons such as thinking memory loss is a normal part of ageing, they don’t recognise the signs, or are just too afraid.
“My role as a dementia adviser is to help people through the process of diagnosis by providing guidance on what to expect and what support Alzheimer’s Society can offer throughout.
“We’re here to help people understand and come to terms with their diagnosis. We provide a confidential listening ear, tailored information and emotional support so people with dementia can continue to live fulfilled lives.”