Early onset dementia is occurring more frequently and developing a decade before than it was 20 years ago, a wide-ranging international study has found. Anecdotally the research confirms what many of us have experienced first-hand.
One of my classmates, Rick Sugden became known as the” lawyer’s lawyer”, until he suddenly developed an aggressive dementia in his early 50s.He almost immediately was unable to continue practising and died several years thereafter.
These tragedies are most likely personally known to almost all of us. Regrettably the trend is that it is expected to continue with environmental factors such as pollution and insecticides increasingly becoming the suspect for the cause. This suggests there could be a hidden epidemic.
Dr. Pritchard was quoted at the international conference as stating ” The rate of increase in such a short time suggests a silent or even a hidden epidemic, in which environmental factors must play a major part, not just aging”
Scientific sceptics countered that since people are dying less frequently of cancer and heart disease, that therefore people “had to die of something”.
Personally I think that rationale sounds like the deniers of climate change.
Ten Early Signs and Symptoms of Dementia
1. Short term memory loss is the hallmark of dementia. This is noticeable by people repeating stories they had told you just minutes before, or being unable to recall what happened just minutes ago. Typically the symptoms start with the person using memory aids such as reminder notes or electronic devices, and then increases to more dependency on others;
2. Problem solving such as paying monthly bills, which is usually noticed by the person giving up on payment and the unpaid bills eventually get noticed ;
3. Difficulty in performing routine tasks such as driving to a familiar location or remembering the rules to a favourite sporting event. May first get noticed by forgetting where car is parked, or getting lost driving home;
4. Difficulty with spatial relationships or visual images which might range from difficulty reading or driving, to no longer understanding colours;
5. Confusion with time or place, which may range from difficulty grasping the passage of time to not knowing where he or she is or how they got there. Many people mix up night and day which in turn can be further complicated by medication mixups;
6. Misplacing items and inability to retrace steps. Many demented people put objects in unusual places and this often results in them accusing others, usually loved ones, of stealing even simple items such as teacups or spoons;
7. Decreased judgment particularly with finances, leaves them particularly vulnerable to telemarketers and other fraudsters. Personal grooming is often neglected as the decision-making process disintegrates;
8. Difficulties in speaking ,writing or participating in conversation that often starts with the forgetting a particular word or what they were saying in midsentence;
9. Withdrawal from employment and social activities which usually commences when the person begins to realize he or she cannot function as well as before and thus withdraws so others don’t notice;
10. Significant changes in mood and personality such as confusion, depression, anxiety and quite often paranoia. This may first be noticed when the person is out of their “comfort zone” and reacts inappropriately.
If you notice the aforesaid symptoms in yourself or others, don’t ignore them and seek medical advice immediately.