There are different symptom profiles which are associated with each of the above types of dementia. The early signs of dementia are very subtle and vague and may not be immediately obvious. Generally, dementia is associated with a loss of mental or cognitive function. People with dementia often have changes in their memory (more recent information is generally harder for them to remember), a decline in their planning and judgement, word-finding and language difficulties and problems with maintaining and focusing their attention. They usually also have changes in their behaviour and personality such as becoming less motivated, more irritable and more anxious and later on some people with dementia may also experience delusions such as the belief that someone is stealing from them. All of these symptoms are often accompanied by problems with daily activities such as driving, managing finances and cooking.
However, there are a number of conditions that produce symptoms similar to dementia. These include vitamin and hormone deficiencies, depression, medication side-effects or overmedication, infections and brain tumours. By treating these conditions, the symptoms will disappear.
It is essential that a medical diagnosis is obtained at an early stage when symptoms first appear to ensure that a person who has a treatable condition is diagnosed and treated correctly. If the symptoms are caused by dementia, an early diagnosis will mean early access to support, information, and medication should it be available.
(Resource: Dementia Collaborative Research Centres, Alzheimer’s Australia)