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early warning signs of dementia

Three Early Warning Signs of Dementia

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These signs might point to cognitive decline nearly a decade before a formal diagnosis.

As we age, be aware of three early warning signs of dementia. Money Talks News’ recent article entitled “3 Dementia Warning Signs That May Appear Years in Advance” reports that now, researchers at the University of Cambridge say signs of dementia may appear up to nine years before the illness is typically diagnosed.

Seeing these early warning signs of dementia soon enough might offer the chance to treat the underlying factors when it can make a significant difference to long-term health.

In a summary of the research findings, the study’s first author, Nol Swaddiwudhipong, a junior doctor at the University of Cambridge, says: “This is a step towards us being able to screen people who are at greatest risk — for example, people over 50 or those who have high blood pressure or do not do enough exercise — and intervene at an earlier stage to help them reduce their risk.”

Here are the critical early warning signs of dementia that may appear years before symptoms clear enough for a diagnosis, according to the recent research published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia, the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

  1. Poorer scores on certain cognitive tests. The researchers examined data from tests of a half-million participants in the United Kingdom between the ages of 40 and 69. The testing included problem-solving, memory, reaction times, and grip strength. Those who fared poorly on these tests were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia.
  2. A recent fall. Those who were eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease were more likely than others to have had a fall during the previous year. Those who developed a rare neurological condition called progressive supranuclear palsy were more than two times as likely as healthy people to have experienced a fall. PSP impacts a person’s balance.
  3. Poorer overall health. Participants in poor overall health were more likely to develop every type of health condition screened for in the study, including Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.

If you notice any of these early warning signs of dementia listed in the study, don’t panic, the researchers say.

The study’s senior author, Dr. Tim Rittman from the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge, says, “People should not be unduly worried if, for example, they are not good at recalling numbers. Even some healthy individuals will naturally score better or worse than their peers. But we would encourage anyone concerned or noticing that their memory or recall is worsening to speak to their [general practitioner].”

With advances in medicine progressing in many areas, the landscape of available medications and treatments is moving quickly and hopefully in promising paths to slow or prevent the deterioration of dementia.

Having an estate plan in place with powers of attorney and related people at the ready to help if needed also makes sense. Keeping options open is also a key element to making the best of your situation if confronted with memory loss.

Reference: Money Talks News (Feb. 13, 2023) “3 Dementia Warning Signs That May Appear Years in Advance”