What are the Initial clinical signs and symptoms of dementia?

Dementia describes a group of symptoms that cause the gradual decline of the brain’s function. It occurs therefore when different diseases affect the brain and cause symptoms of dementia.  Although it most often occurs as you get older, it is not a normal part of ageing.

Some of the most common types of dementia conditions are :

  • Alzheimer’s disease – caused by build-ups of two protein deposits in the brain which damage neurons causing them to die gradually.
  • Vascular dementia – is  caused by damage to the blood vessels that carry oxygen to the brain. This is how a stroke can cause dementia.
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies – Lewy bodies are  protein deposits  that form inside neurons. They disrupt the normal functioning of the brain and cause nerve cells to die.
  • Fronto-temporal dementia – due to damage to the front frontal and temporal (side) lobes of the brain. Damage in these areas affects speech, language, personality and behaviour. 

The first symptoms of dementia vary according to each person but memory problems are typical early on. The memory loss is short term rather than long term memory loss. Such as forgetting appointments, forgetting where you put the keys and remembering names.

Other early signs and symptoms are  aspects of cognition known as cognitive impairment. Examples are:

Word-finding, ( not being able to get the words out that you mean to say.)

Vision/spatial issues, (such as driving a car and not judging spaces well causing an accident.)

And impaired reasoning or judgment. ( such as difficulty in making simple decisions or making irrational actions)

As the disease progresses, the symptoms intensify.