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Five symptoms of dementia and the early warning signs to watch out for

It affects an estimated 900,000 people across the UK and is particularly common among the elderly. However, everyone experiences dementia differently.

It's the name given to the number of symptoms which result from the nerve cells that transmit messages from the brain being damaged by diseases like Alzheimer’s. And a study released by the Alzheimer’s Society earlier this year showed that as many as one in four sufferers can go a couple of years before the root of the problem is finally diagnosed.

The reason for this delay is because the symptoms are often indistinguishable from what can normally happen to people as they grow older, thereby making them harder to spot. Nevertheless, five of the most common tell-tale signs include:

READ MORE: 'Both my parents got Alzheimer's disease but it brought us closer'

  • Struggling with decision-making and reasoning
  • Difficulty understanding time and place, such as getting up to go to work in the middle of the night
  • Struggling to communicate effectively, such as not being able to find the right words
  • Repeating themselves often and finding it hard to follow a conversation
  • Changes in personality and behaviour, mood swings and experiencing anxiety or depression

According to The Independent, the charity surveyed more than 1,000 dementia patients and their carers about their experiences. They confirmed that the difficulty of accurate diagnosis was a lack of distinction between actual symptoms and by-products of the natural ageing process.

"Asking the same question over and over again is not called getting old, it’s called getting ill,” said Kate Lee, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Society. "If you’re worried for yourself or someone you love, come to Alzheimer’s Society for support. The stark findings of our survey - with one person in 14 people aged over 65 and one in six aged over 80 experiencing the condition - show just how dangerous it can be to battle dementia symptoms alone and put off getting help.

“Yes, getting a diagnosis can be daunting – I know I was terrified when my mum got diagnosed. But it is worth it – over nine in 10 people with dementia told us they benefited from getting a diagnosis. It gave them crucial access to treatment, care and support, and precious time to plan for the future. With the pandemic causing diagnosis rates to plunge, it’s more important than ever to seek help. You don’t have to face dementia alone, we’re here to support everyone affected."

The Alzheimer’s Society, alongside the Royal College of General Practitioners, has also produced a new checklist to help identify the symptoms of dementia and to find the appropriate help. To access the checklist click here, or go to the Alzheimer’s Society and NHS websites for more information.

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