The ‘common’ sign when shopping that could indicate dementia

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Dementia is a group of symptoms associated with the decline of brain function. More commonly affecting older people, common signs include memory loss and behavioural changes. As with any medical condition, the sooner it is identified, the sooner the person can get the help they need.

Although there is no cure as of yet for dementia there are treatments available to help slow its progression as well as ease symptoms.

This can significantly improve the quality of life of both the person with dementia and their loved ones.

However, it is important to be aware of the various symptoms linked to dementia as they can present in any situation.

Emma Hewat, head of dementia at the KYN care home in London, spoke with to explain more.

She listed getting “confused” over the correct change while shopping as a sign to look out for.

“Obvious symptoms of dementia can include memory loss and difficulty concentrating, getting confused over the correct change when shopping, struggling to follow a conversation or finding the right words to say,” she said.

“Other common symptoms include finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, being confused about time and place and, often, mood changes.”

She also shared some less obvious signs.

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Ms Hewat said: “Look out for changes in behaviour, or language problems.

“These come on gradually and get worse slowly over time.

“The more unusual symptoms to spot are things like disturbed sleep, vivid dreams and problems recognising and understanding money.

“Other lesser-known symptoms include changes in behaviour, such as losing confidence, becoming withdrawn and losing interest in friends, work or hobbies.”

What should I do if someone is displaying symptoms?

Ms Hewat said: “If someone is worried about their memory, they should speak to a GP.

“To best help someone living with dementia, social support is key – this could be from family, a carer or even things like joining new activity groups.

“Research shows that social, intellectual and creative pursuits can help to improve morale, mood and health for someone living with dementia.

“Meaningful activities are vital to help people develop social relationships and remain connected to the world.”

Reducing the risk of dementia

“There are many factors that may increase our risk of developing dementia that we’re unable to change such as family history and genetics, but we can make positive changes to our lifestyles to keep our brains healthy,” Ms Hewat added.

“In mid-life, knowing what to do for good brain health is becoming increasingly important.”

She listed ways to lower your risk of developing dementia:

  • Keeping active on a regular basis by taking part in activities that get your heart pumping, which can also help maintain a healthy weight
  • Eating a balanced, healthy Mediterranean-style diet
  • Not smoking to excess – it’s never too late to benefit from giving up smoking
  • Drinking in moderation is recommended, no more than 21 units per week
  • Reducing social isolation by trying to find opportunities to spend time with other people
  • Keeping your brain active no matter what age – it’s important to stimulate our brains by being with people and finding opportunities to learn new skills
  • Sleeping well and getting plenty of rest is important in keeping your brain healthy
  • Managing stress and looking after your mental health is also key.

If you think you or someone you know is displaying signs of dementia you should organise a GP appointment.

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