Dementia is an uncomfortable subject to talk about, particularly when it affects a loved one.
Throughout the world, there’s something of a stigma surrounding dementia. That certainly isn’t helpful, since the syndrome is extremely common. An estimated 47 million people worldwide are living with some type of dementia, per the World Health Organization, and that number will likely increase to 75 million by 2030. The WHO expects the number to triple by 2050.
Contrary to popular misconception, dementia isn’t a standardized syndrome. Different types of dementia affect the brain in very different ways, and as a result, some people ignore the early symptoms in themselves or their loved ones. Generally, dementia is progressive, so it gets worse over time, but early detection can greatly improve a patient’s quality of life.
Before we discuss some of these early warning signs, however, we should note that dementias share symptoms with other conditions. Only a qualified physician can make an actual diagnosis, and articles like this one aren’t intended as a replacement for a visit to the doctor’s office.
“Sound bytes don’t work for these types of discussions,” Dr. Roselyn G. Smith tells HealthyWay. Smith is a clinical psychologist and Fulbright specialist working in Pinecrest, Florida. “The research is far more complex than that—we can’t just take one symptom and follow it to a diagnosis.”