When most people think of dementia, they think about memory loss or other signs of mental disability. However, very early dementia can actually cause changes in just personality and behavior, according to researchers who recently presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Toronto.
Older adults who are suddenly acting out of character, such as feeling sad, irritable, rude, or disinterested in friends and family may be exhibiting warning signs of early-stage dementia. Researchers are proposing that this type of early dementia have its own diagnosis called Mild Behavioral Impairment (MBI). Catching MBI early can help doctors pave the way for early treatment to prevent neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease down the line.
To help diagnose this, researchers came up with a checklist to help recognize symptoms of early neurodegeneration. Not all people who show these symptoms have MBI, but if the changes in behavior have gone on for at least six months, they may want to consider seeing a doctor.
Here are some of the warning signs:
1. Loss Of Interest
If someone who is usually social suddenly has no interest in spending time with her friends or family, it may be an early sign of dementia. The same goes for a loss of interest in topics that were usually interesting to a person.
2. More Frequent Frustration
MBI can lead to a person becoming more easily frustrated and impatient. They can appear more tense, become more panicked, and have an inability to relax. They also experience more anxiety about things that are usually routine.
3. Lack Of Social Judgment
Older adults with early-stage dementia often begin to behave differently in social situations than in the past. They act differently both in public and private, and their social judgment differs from how it had historically been.
4. Increased Suspicion
A warning sign of MBI often includes suspiciousness about the intentions or motives of other people. Those suffering from MBI can start to view themselves a burden to their families, and they fear they could be a danger to others. Sometimes they may even claim to hear voices or communicate with “spirits.”
5. Low Spirits
If a generally happy person is suddenly depressed, discouraged and anxious, they may be exhibiting signs of early dementia. They may have episodes of tearfulness and become less able to experience pleasure.
It’s best to consult with a doctor if you or someone you know is exhibiting these signs, as they can give you a more official diagnosis.