What Are the Symptoms of Dementia? Dementia Symptoms May Appear Years Before Diagnosis
Dementia is the general name given to many diseases in which forgetfulness is at the forefront. However, it has been proven as a result of research that the symptoms of dementia started about 9 years ago.
Dementia; describes a group of symptoms that affect memory, thinking, and social skills. Dementia is not a single disease. On the contrary, there are many varieties. The most common type, Alzheimer's dementia, is responsible for about 60% to 80% of all dementias. Vascular dementia from stroke is the second most common type of dementia.
Dementia literally means loss of mind. But dementias, especially Alzheimer's type dementia, do not come on suddenly, the symptoms come on gradually and are progressive. Some dementias occur due to a deficiency of a substance in the body or as a side effect of a substance or medication.
What Causes Dementia?
There are many different regions of the brain, each responsible for different functions (for example, memory, judgment, and movement). When cells in a particular area are damaged, that area cannot perform its normal functions.
Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells. This damage inhibits the ability of brain cells to communicate with each other. Thinking, behavior, and emotions can be affected when brain cells are unable to communicate normally.
Dementia Symptoms Appeared Years Ago
Using data from the UK Biobank, the researchers compared cognitive and functional measures in people who later developed a form of dementia with those who did not.
"We wanted to see how early we could catch some signs of the disease," says lead author Timothy Rittman, a senior clinical research fellow in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge.
The study included 500,000 people aged 45 to 69 and looked at their daily functions.
"We wanted to look for meaningful differences between groups," explains Rittman. "When we found them, we wanted to know if these symptoms were always present and whether they got worse. They get worse the closer we get to the diagnosis." said.
While symptoms become more pronounced as dementia progresses, early signs may be easy to remember or be denied in the patients themselves. However, knowing what the early symptoms may be and acting accordingly may be important for early intervention.
Heidi Roth, associate professor of sleep medicine, memory and cognitive disorders and lead in the Duke-UNC Alzheimer's Disease Collaboration, says the UK study marks a full 9 years from early symptoms to diagnosis.
"There may be minor changes at first, but they're probably not responding," Roth said. On the other hand, family members may not want to admit that their loved ones are showing signs of deterioration, she said.
There's also the fact that everyone has minor cognitive declines with age – for example, walking into a room and forgetting why you're there. Or forgetting the occasional appointment. Even in our 30s and 40s, we can worry about these situations.
"But when the behavior becomes more consistent or people start commenting on your 'little misses,' you have to pay attention to that," Roth said.