In New Zealand, nearly two thirds of adult New Zealanders have some personal experience with dementia. December is a great time for family to come together. This also can mean that families start noticing changes in their loved ones behaviors and perhaps some concerns are raised. We use 'Remember December' as a time to remind ourselves of the signs, and the supports available to those who need some help or guidance in our community.
We are the early warning signs:
- Memory loss You may notice subtle changes initially such as repeating the same story and asking the same question. Often their long-term memory will be good but not their short-term one.
- Difficulty performing tasks There maybe a shift in their ability to perform familiar and everyday tasks such as cooking a meal, as well as difficulty multi-tasking.
- Problems with language They may struggle to find the right words or to communicate their thoughts and feelings. They may remove themselves from social situations to avoid making mistakes around others.
- Disorientation to time and place They may have difficulty knowing the time of day, where they are or where they need to be.
- Poor or decreased judgement They may appear confused and not work well under pressure, with difficulty in decision-making, problem solving and judgment.
- Problem keeping track of things They may have difficulty keeping track of dates and times, or any new information, and rely on family and friends for memory aid.
- Misplacing things They may misplace items regularly and forget where they've put things.
- Changes in mood and behaviour They may experience an increase in feelings of anxiety and low mood, making them appear 'difficult', suspicious and defensive to others.
- Trouble with images and spatial relationships They may have trouble understanding visual images (eg road signs) and spatial relationships 9egspeed and distance), which can have major repercussions for their safety to drive.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities For fear of others noticing changes in their ability to manage, they may lose interest in their work or hobbies and appear socially detached.