Updated: Oct 30
For decades, ten warning signs have been widely publicized and, for the most part, embraced by many as the only list for middle-aged and older adults to recognize signs of possible degenerative cognitive impairment. While serving an important purpose for years, this narrow Alzheimer's-focused "top ten" checklist is now outdated and may contribute to missing some fairly common signs of a Dementia.
The top four Dementias include Alzheimer's, Vascular, Lewy Body, and Frontotemporal, and still, there are many more conditions and disorders that fall under the big umbrella of Dementia - with new subtypes being researched each year. In addition, there are times when pathologies overlap, and when they do, someone is often said to be living with Mixed Dementia. So, it's time to retire the old and incomplete list.
After extensive research, the Dementia Society of America® believes that there are at least 22 Clues™ worth following up on by individuals, families, and medical professionals. This deeper and more comprehensive list includes:
Short-Term Memory Loss & Repetitive Behaviors
Problems with Tasks, Planning & Organizing
Believing It's Another Time & Place
Difficulty with Senses Like Smell, Taste, Vision & Hearing
Challenges with Word Finding
Getting Lost in Familiar Places
Sad or Withdrawn
Swearing, Disinhibition & Aggression
Changes in Gait, Walking, or Balance
Lacking Self-awareness of Impairments
Tremors & Jerkiness
Apathy & Hygiene Problems
Uncontrollable Crying & Laughing
Changes in Handwriting
Hallucinations and Delusions
Fabrication of Stories
REM Disorder & Other Sleep Issues
Rapid Onset of Symptoms
Bowel or Urinary Incontinence
As important as it is to understand that not all Dementias are Alzheimer’s disease, it is equally important to realize that experiencing one or more of these signs and symptoms does not necessarily indicate a Dementia. These symptoms can be caused by sleep irregularities, medications, vitamin deficiencies, mood disorders, infections, trauma, other disease processes, and more.
If you notice these changes in yourself or a loved one, see a doctor. They may want to review your history, administer a cognitive screening, conduct laboratory tests, and other diagnostic approaches to understand the underlying conditions producing symptoms.
Read our latest publication, The Big Umbrella™.
Contributor: Karen R. Ogden, team member, Dementia Society of America.
The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of content contained within blog posts that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society does not provide medical advice. Please consult your doctor. www.DementiaSociety.org