It is common to experience some difficulties with memory at some point in life and there are many factors that could explain this. Many of them are manageable and do not necessarily mean dementia is the cause. Some contributing factors that might cause memory difficulties could be stress or a change in your emotional or physical health. In some cases, however, those changes can be a clue to early cognitive decline. Here is a list of some potential early signs of cognitive decline.
Short term or recent memory loss
We all forget things occasionally. An appointment we’ve made, where we parked our car in a large shopping Centre car park or the name of someone we don’t see very often. However It’s worth a chat with your doctor if you’re finding it difficult to remember recent events or upcoming plans more regularly, or if you have difficulty recalling things even after a reminder (for example, you can see the specialist appointment written in your handwriting on the calendar, but do not remember recall making the appointment), this is something you should discuss with your GP.• Language changes
The experience of having that word you want to use on the tip of your tongue but not quite being able to produce it is a common one. If you’re finding this happens more often than it used to, the names of common objects or items elude you for long periods, or if you’re multi-lingual and have noticed increasing difficulties speaking in your adoptive language, these could be signs of cognitive change.
Difficulties with performing known tasks
A noticeable difference in the effectiveness of being able to carry out a task you once did well is another cognitive change to be aware of. You may have always been very proficient in the kitchen, but in recent months, you have missed a few steps in recipes you previously knew by heart. Perhaps you’re finding it harder to manage in the job or role you’ve always excelled at. Consider a visit to your doctor if these experiences seem familiar.
Disorientation to time and place
Losing your way in a well-known area (such as while driving to work, navigating a familiar shopping centre or whilst walking the dog) are possible signs that your memory is changing. If you have trouble accurately recalling what month or year it is, this may also be a sign that a doctor’s visit is in order.
Errors in judgement
Have you or someone you know noticed a change in your judgement? Perhaps you were always a very good driver but you or others have noticed a few mistakes you’ve made whilst driving recently. Maybe people close to you are showing concern that you’re being too generous with your charitable efforts or are concerned about your spending. If so, this is worth discussing with your doctor.
Difficulties with calculation
People with cognitive decline will often develop difficulties with managing money and time. If reading a clock has become tricky or you’re struggling to calculate and supply the right tender for the register operator at your local supermarket, it’s recommended you have a talk with your doctor.
Losing or misplacing items
We all misplace things from time to time. Perhaps you take off your wedding rings and put them on the picnic table to do some gardening instead of on the night stand where you would normally store them. Later, it takes a while to retrace your steps and locate your rings. This is quite normal and something most of us have experienced. You should start to take notice of these events if they’re happening more regularly than they used to, or if you find your misplaced items in unusual places. Whilst placing rings on a table while gardening is a logical action, finding them in the cutlery drawer or locating your missing wallet or keys in the fridge may be signs of early cognitive changes.
Changes in mood
You may be experiencing changes with how you’re feeling socially and emotionally, this to can also be a normal part of life, but it may feel different to what has been experienced previously. You might have started to feel apathetic, suspicious, or withdrawn, despite always being active, trusting, and outgoing. You might be experiencing sudden mood swings or notice you have started to ‘over react’ to a seemingly small event or issue. You and / or others may have started to notice you saying or doing things that are out of keeping with your usual character or that are considered socially inappropriate. Some of these experiences may be signs of other illnesses such as depression, however they can also be signs of cognitive decline.