SAFFORD – At least a dozen police officers were looking for an elderly woman with dementia last Friday after she was reported missing. Police arrived at the residence at approximately 12:40 PM. A neighbor told police that the woman’s husband was out looking for her. The woman had reportedly walked away from the couple’s residence while her husband was in town. Authorities searched the residence several times but did not find the woman there. Because of the heat and time of day all available resources were called out, including a Department of Corrections K9 team, search and rescue and a Lifenet helicopter. Authorities searched for over an hour with no sightings of the missing woman.
At 2:00 PM the missing woman was found at a beauty salon after her husband remembered dropping her off there earlier that day. Apparently, the husband was also experiencing the onset of some type of memory loss. The man and woman were turned over to family members who had arrived on scene.
10 Early Symptoms of Dementia
If you or your loved one is experiencing memory problems, don’t immediately conclude that it’s dementia. A person needs to have at least two types of impairment that significantly interfere with everyday life to receive a dementia diagnosis.
In addition to difficulty remembering, the person may also experience impairments in:
1. Subtle short-term memory changes
Trouble with memory can be an early symptom of dementia. The changes are often subtle and tend to involve short-term memory. An older person may be able to remember events that took place years ago but not what they had for breakfast.
Other symptoms of changes in short-term memory include forgetting where they left an item, struggling to remember why they entered a particular room, or forgetting what they were supposed to do on any given day.
2. Difficulty finding the right words
Another early symptom of dementia is struggling to communicate thoughts. A person with dementia may have difficulty explaining something or finding the right words to express themselves. Having a conversation with a person who has dementia can be difficult, and it may take longer than usual to conclude.
3. Changes in mood
A change in mood is also common with dementia. If you have dementia, it isn’t always easy to recognize this in yourself, but you may notice this change in someone else. Depression, for instance, is typical of early dementia.
Along with mood changes, you might also see a shift in personality. One typical type of personality change seen with dementia is a shift from being shy to outgoing. This is because the condition often affects judgment.
Apathy, or listlessness, commonly occurs in early dementia. A person with symptoms could lose interest in hobbies or activities. They may not want to go out anymore or do anything fun. They may lose interest in spending time with friends and family, and they may seem emotionally flat.
5. Difficulty completing normal tasks
A subtle shift in the ability to complete normal tasks may indicate that someone has early dementia. This usually starts with difficulty doing more complex tasks like balancing a checkbook or playing games that have a lot of rules.
Along with the struggle to complete familiar tasks, they may struggle to learn how to do new things or follow new routines.
Someone in the early stages of dementia may often become confused. When memory, thinking, or judgment lapses, confusion may arise as they can no longer remember faces, find the right words, or interact with people normally.
Confusion can occur for a number of reasons and apply to different situations. For example, they may misplace their car keys, forget what comes next in the day, or have difficulty remembering someone they’ve met before.
7. Difficulty following storylines
Difficulty following storylines may occur due to early dementia. This is a classic early symptom.
Just as finding and using the right words becomes difficult, people with dementia sometimes forget the meanings of words they hear or struggle to follow along with conversations or TV programs.
8. A failing sense of direction
The sense of direction and spatial orientation commonly starts to deteriorate with the onset of dementia. This can mean not recognizing once-familiar landmarks and forgetting regularly used directions. It also becomes more difficult to follow a series of directions and step-by-step instructions.
9. Being repetitive
Repetition is common in dementia because of memory loss and general behavioral changes. The person may repeat daily tasks, such as shaving, or they may collect items obsessively.
They also may repeat the same questions in a conversation after they’ve been answered.
10. Struggling to adapt to change
For someone in the early stages of dementia, the experience can cause fear. Suddenly, they can’t remember people they know or follow what others are saying. They can’t remember why they went to the store, and they get lost on the way home.
Because of this, they might crave routine and be afraid to try new experiences. Difficulty adapting to change is also a typical symptom of early dementia.