Early Signs of Dementia: The Key to Early Diagnosis

By Cynthia Nigolian


June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, the perfect time to understand the signs of dementia. Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease provides the maximum amount of time to benefit from treatments and allows the patient’s family to plan for future care. Many forms of dementia begin with subtle symptoms that worsen over time.

Some of these symptoms are:

Short-term memory loss: loved ones may remember events from years ago, but forget what they had to eat earlier in the day.

Trouble finding the right words: loved ones may begin calling things by the wrong name, not knowing the word for something or repeating themselves in conversation.

Changes in mood: your loved one may seem more sensitive, fearful, anxious, depressed or confused, especially when they are out of their comfort zone or their normal routine.

Decreased interest in hobbies or social activities: loved ones may become apathetic toward hobbies or social activities they used to enjoy, often due to the changes they’re experiencing in many early signs.

Familiar tasks become difficult: your loved one may begin having trouble balancing a checkbook, recording a TV show, using settings on a microwave or driving to a familiar location.

If you notice any of these symptoms in a family member or friend, the first step is to schedule an appointment with his or her doctor. You may also start looking for dementia care options for your loved one. There are support and education programs available through the Central New York Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, including many at Loretto’s facilities. Loretto is one of the largest providers of Alzheimer’s and dementia care in the region, offering the first residential program in Central New York created especially for affected individuals at its Heritage Community.

For more information about Loretto’s services and facilities, visit www.lorettocny.org. And to explore the resources available from the Central New York Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, visit www.alz.org/centralnewyork.

Cynthia Nigolian is a mastered nurse with national certification in gerontological nursing. She has held positions as a staff nurse in critical care, nurse educator, nurse manager and clinical nurse specialist in gerontology within the acute care health setting. Her focus is on geriatric best practices to improve outcomes of care for at risk older adults.