Signs that could ‘predict dementia years before diagnosis’ – expert

Steve Thompson recalls signs of his early-onset dementia

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Dementia describes a cluster of symptoms linked to an ongoing cognitive decline. While the greatest known risk for dementia is increasing age, this condition is not considered a normal part of ageing. What’s more, it’s possible to start experiencing the warning signs of dementia years before the diagnosis.

While there’s no magical device that can tell you if and when you’ll develop dementia, there are some signs that could ring alarm bells years before you start experiencing the key symptoms.

According to Medical Director Monika Wassermann one such sign can crop up when you’re completing daily tasks.

From doing a wash to cooking dinner, you probably run on autopilot when completing day-to-day chores.

Having done the whole cycle of food preparation and cleaning million times before, you might not feel like you’re engaging much of your brain when completing these small tasks.

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However, the problem occurs when you find yourself struggling or unable to finish these jobs.

Wassermann said: “[One] sign that can predict dementia years before a diagnosis is the inability to accomplish common tasks.

“At the same time, a person might experience difficulty learning new things.”

Furthermore, difficulty understanding others and temporary memory loss could also appear years before the diagnosis.

Wassermann said: “When dementia strikes, you may find expressing your thoughts or ideas challenging.

“At the same time, you are less likely to understand those around you.

“When you can hardly remember things that happened a few hours ago or what you are supposed to do, there is a decent chance you have dementia.”

The best way to identify these warning signs is simply by paying attention to your thinking and behaviour on a day-to-day basis.

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Once you spot these red flags, the expert recommended reaching out to a neurologist.

Wassermann added: “A neurologist will perform a physical and mental exam to determine if the symptoms are connected to dementia or other cognitive problems.”

The NHS advises speaking to your GP if you start noticing signs connected to dementia.

While the signs that Wassermann listed could point to dementia, it’s important to remember that the most common symptom of cognitive decline is memory loss.

How to reduce your dementia risk

While certain factors like your age and genetics are non-negotiable, others can see your risk of the mind-robbing condition fall.

From a healthy diet to cutting back on alcohol, there are different lifestyle tweaks that could help.

Similarly to any healthy diet, a dementia-busting food regimen focuses on keeping saturated fat, salt, and sugar in check, while boosting your intake of fibre.

Other lifestyle changes that can also benefit your brain include exercise and quitting smoking, the NHS adds.

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