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The Early Warning Signs Of Dementia

Cynthia Perthuis September 2020

Elderly Care Kuel Category Expert: Cynthia Perthuis

I don’t know about you, but for me, there is nothing scarier, as we age, than the thought of losing my mind.

While most of my friends and family think I lost my mind several years ago, I am talking about something a little more serious than making bad decisions. You’ve heard the phrases and maybe even spoken these statements – “My grandmother was senile.”  “My grandfather had Oldtimers (Alzheimer’s).”  “My mother doesn’t even know what day it is or what my name is.”  

Do you know the early warning signs of dementia related diseases?

As you know, I like to use musical references in my presentations. Not sure if you remember Gnarls Barkley but his song “Crazy” says a lot,

“I remember when
I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place
Even your emotions have an echo in so much space”

Dementia Is An Umbrella Term:

Let me clarify, the term dementia is an umbrella term. It encompasses the normal mild cognitive decline that comes with aging, all the way to other, more complicated, dementia related diseases such as; Alzheimer’s and Lewy Body Dementia. This month, let’s look at the signs and next time, let’s look at some ways to prevent cognitive decline. While there is not a cure for some of the dementia related diseases, there are ways to keep your mind sharp as you age.

Losing My Mind – The Early Warning Signs of Dementia:

If you forget to take a shower for several days, it could be really serious.”

Cognitive and physical decline happens in most aging adults. We can’t jump as high. We can’t run as fast. And, we can’t sleep as well nor  think as quickly. There is no way we can work an algebra equation; much less make change at a cash register. Few of us can still do a cartwheel. All of this is common with aging. If you call your oldest child by the name of your youngest child, or you lose your car keys, do not fret. This is common not only with aging but also with stress. However, if you sit through a stoplight and can’t remember how you got there, it might be more serious. If you don’t remember where the milk carton goes after you pour yourself a glass, it might be more serious. If you forget to take a shower for several days, it could be really serious.

Misleading Signs:

Did you know that dehydration, isolation and some common illnesses can cause symptoms that look like dementia? It is common to have a family misdiagnose their parent with a dementia related disease due to side effects of medications or combinations of medications.  Sometimes, even depression can look like dementia. 

If You’re Worried:

Mood swings, sleep disturbances, time confusion, change in eating habits, social dependence on family and withdrawal are warning signs”

If memory loss or confusion is interfering with daily life, it is time to get tested. Pay attention to the early warning signs of dementia. Mood swings, sleep disturbances, time confusion, change in eating habits, social dependence on family and withdrawal are warning signs that there is something more serious than stress and simple forgetfulness. Short-term memory loss and the retelling of stories on a continual loop are some of the first warning signs that warrant a trip to the doctor. First stop – your primary care physician. They can do some quick testing and refer you to the appropriate specialist while looking for other causes for the memory loss.

If there is a diagnosis of a dementia disease, there are a number of ways to manage that diagnosis and we will talk about that in one of our next sessions. If the diagnosis is simple forgetfulness, the primary thing we can do for mind health is take care of physical health. We will talk about some tips and tricks for maintaining mind health in a future article. In the meantime, know the signs. Do not add to your stress of forgetfulness by worrying about dementia.

Cynthia Perthuis

About the Author

Cynthia Perthuis left her cushy life in Corporate America in 2018 to use her personal experience with her parents and her entrepreneurial background to help the 10,000 people a day turning 65 in the US. The stress of helping aging loved ones and working full-time and caring for her own family while living over 1500 miles apart was overwhelming at times. She often wished there was a non-conflicted industry professional to help when facing these life-changing decisions.   She has created her team at Senior Care Authority (www.scanyfl.com) for that purpose. Her team supports over 300 families a year as they navigate these decisions.

Cynthia is originally from Texas and holds a degree from Baylor University.  She has made her home, for the past 18 years in New York City and recently added a home in Southwest Florida.  She enjoys travel and outdoor activities and has practiced yoga regularly for over 15 years. 

2 thoughts on “The Early Warning Signs Of Dementia

  1. Cynthia Myer says:

    Great article highlighting the line of when to be concerned and when to take basic care into account.

    In my personal experience, the early onset of menopause triggered dementia- like symptoms. Because there is a strong family history of dementia, I was terrified. At 44, my doctor didn’t even consider dementia or menopause, so I was on my own. Personal research and articles like these helped me navigate that time and remain calm.

    Thanks for sharing a positive but responsible view about dementia symptoms.

    • [email protected] says:

      Cynthia (great name by the way), You are one of the lucky ones that you were able to find the help you needed. So many of the elderly do not have the energy or skills to find out what other things could be causing signs of dementia. I have heard countless stories about the mis-diagnosis. Trust your instinct and get a second opinion.

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