What are the symptoms of dementia?

Just as there are many different forms of the disease, there are also a variety of dementia symptoms. The list below includes the most common, but isn’t exhaustive. As with any medical condition, symptoms vary from person to person and it’s best to seek medical advice if you have any concerns.
 

Possible Symptoms of Dementia

  • Memory loss – This is often one of the first signs of dementia. It can be distressing for both the individual and their family, but it’s important to support the person and help them to retain their confidence and independence through an active life and personalised treatment plans.
  • Behaviour changes – Behaving out of character is quite common for those living with dementia. This is often due to frustration, and can stem from biological, psychological or social causes.
  • Communicating and language – A person with dementia may sometimes struggle to communicate effectively as they search for the right words or phrases. It’s important to be patient with them and give them the resources needed to communicate in the most suitable way for them.
  • Aggression – More than one third of people living with dementia have at times behaved in an aggressive manner, particularly in the moderate to severe stages. This can come in the form of either verbal or physical aggression. This can be difficult for both the individual and those around them, but remember, this is the dementia and not the person.
  • Sight and hearing loss – As we know, these are common problems that occur with old age, but they can be more problematic for someone with dementia as they will add to their confusion and difficulty communicating. Sight and hearing loss can make it difficult for healthcare professionals to make a diagnosis, as they ascertain the difference between regular ageing problems and dementia.
  • Perception and hallucinations – Closely linked to sight problems, people living with dementia can also experience hallucinations. These can be particularly frightening, especially as their perception of the world around them is changing. It’s important to make them feel safe by offering support and reassurance.
  • Walking about – Although this may seem harmless, it can be dangerous for the individual as they struggle with orientation and could put themselves in a risky situation if they’re not being accompanied. However, walking has a purpose and it’s important to look at why the person might be doing this in order to establish a solution.
  • Sleep and night-time disturbance – It’s common for people with dementia to have trouble sleeping, and the disturbances may add to their daily confusion. It’s helpful to try and establish as much of a routine as possible by limiting daytime sleeping, setting alarms or avoiding certain food/drink.
  • Apathy, anxiety and depression – These psychological conditions are also common symptoms of dementia, as they affect a person’s mental and emotional health. It’s important to provide support for the person and give them time to talk about their feelings whilst encouraging them to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.

Managing the symptoms of dementia can be tricky, as every person will react differently, but ensuring that the person is treated as an individual will help to overcome some of the symptoms and encourage them to live as much of a fulfilled and regular life as possible.

Take a look at our page on how dementia is treated for more information.