Inability to distinguish between past and present may signal dementia

Dementia is a syndrome associated with progressive brain failure. Most commonly affecting the elderly, its symptoms can also be mistaken for standard memory problems with age. However, some memory problems should sound the alarm as they are something more serious.

Almost one million people in the UK are believed to be currently living with dementia and this number is expected to rise over the years. Therefore, it is important to know some of the signs.

While there is no cure for dementia yet, there are treatments that can help those living with the condition.

Stuart McGinn, managing director of Baycroft Care Homes, on some of the symptoms to watch out for. He explained that one of the “worrisome” signs is “confusion over time and place.”

This includes a person who cannot distinguish past from present.

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He said: “While many people can walk into a room and forget what they were doing there, this is on a much more advanced level.

“For example, an elderly member of your family might get lost on the street they have walked all their lives and struggle to find their way home.

“On the other hand, your loved one may become confused about time, unable to distinguish their past from their present.

“This can include confusing family members with people from their past, such as their own parents, and trying to remember people from their present, such as their grandchildren.”

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Mr. McGinn shared other signs that you should pay attention to.

You keep losing things

“Anyone can forget where they put their keys on a random occasion, but if your loved one finds that they regularly lose things, it could be an early sign of dementia,” he said.

“For example, it could be the constant loss of glasses or looking for objects in strange places, such as the TV remote control in the refrigerator or food in cleaning products.”

Focus difficulty

He said: “Those who suffer from early dementia are often unable to concentrate or focus on tasks that require organization and planning.

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“That’s because dementia-causing Alzheimer’s affects the hippocampus, which controls new learning and memory. When this is disrupted, it can be much more difficult to focus.”

Language problems

Mr McGinn said: “A sign that may indicate that a person is suffering from dementia is difficulty forming sentences or finding the right words during a conversation.

“While anyone can forget an extra word from time to time, regularly trying to remember words or replacing them in sentences with random words can indicate that someone is suffering.”

Memory loss

“One of the most visible and worrisome signs that your loved one may be showing early signs of dementia is recurring memory loss,” he said.

“For example, rereading the newspaper, retelling stories, or forgetting the name of an acquaintance.”

Changes in mood

He said: “Frequent mood swings can be another sign that your loved one is showing early signs of dementia as they begin to become frustrated with themselves, sometimes for no apparent reason or reason.

“It could be the person’s mood rapidly changing from calm to angry or emotional for no reason, or if they become more withdrawn or anxious overall.”

Difficulty performing normal daily tasks

He added, “If you notice that a member of your family has recently found it difficult to perform normal daily tasks, such as forgetting how to cook their favorite recipe that they have prepared countless times, or struggling to count their money at the supermarket . “All of these can be signs of dementia.”

If you think you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of dementia, you should make an appointment with your GP.

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