Dementia can be difficult to identify, especially since the person experiencing the symptoms is usually unaware of their condition. However, experts say that by looking for certain telltale changes, you may be able to spot early signs of dementia in yourself or others close to you.
In fact, experts suggest that there’s a scenario that can alert you to the early stages of cognitive decline, and warn that you should never dismiss it as a minor mistake if you notice it happening in your home. Read on to find out what strange situation could really be a sign of dementia, and what to do if it happens to you.
If you find everyday items in unusual places, it may be an early sign of dementia.
People with dementia and their carers often report finding household items in unexpected places, without explaining how they got there.
“A person showing early signs of dementia may put everyday things in unusual places (for example, a loaf of bread in the washing machine, money in the oven, or washing-up liquid in the fridge),” says Dr. Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), from United Kingdom. They add that this is often because people with dementia may have difficulty recognizing familiar items.
This can affect the patient’s ability to trust others.
Experts warn that this can profoundly affect a dementia patient’s relationships with others. Many dementia patients They already suffer from delusions, so misplacing items inside the house can lead them to believe they are the victims of theft or tampering. This can lead to an atmosphere of suspicion, which can further isolate people with dementia.
In fact, it is common for people with dementia accuse their carers or relatives from stealing when things seem to be lost. Delusions (firm beliefs in things that are not real) can occur in the middle or late stages of Alzheimer’s.
Confusion and memory loss, such as the inability to remember certain people or objects, can contribute to these false beliefs,” according to the Alzheimer’s Association. “A person with Alzheimer’s may believe that a family member is stealing their belongings or that the police are following them. This type of suspicious delusion is sometimes referred to as paranoia,” they add.
However, people with dementia are also vulnerable to theft and financial abuse.
Although people with dementia imagine many cases of ‘theft’, it is important to remember that people with cognitive impairment are, in fact, more vulnerable to various forms of abuse, including financial. This can come in the form of theft, financial manipulation, forced changes to a will, forged checks, and more.
“One of the biggest risk factors for financial abuse is having some type of cognitive impairment, either mild or more significant, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia,” he explains. Better Health While Aging, an informative site on healthy aging and caring for the elderly.
“Sometimes the person suspected of exploitation is relatively new to the older person’s life, such as a new romantic interest, friend or paid carer. In other cases, family members worry that someone in the family, such as one of the older person’s children, is beginning to take financial advantage of things.
For this reason, if someone you know who has dementia has shared concerns about theft or other forms of financial exploitation, you should follow up and try to rule it out.
You can protect yourself by making a plan early
This can all get complicated quickly, which is why experts say you need to protect yourself against potential forms of financial abuse at the first signs of cognitive decline, and ideally sooner. This may involve speaking with a lawyer who can help you protect your will and appoint a trustee to manage your financial affairs.
You should also have a conversation with someone you trust about recognizing the signs of financial abuse on your behalf, in case you no longer have that ability one day.
According to the National Association for Adult Protective Servicesthese can include unpaid bills despite earning adequate income, sudden transfers of assets, checks written for “cash”, unexplained disappearances of cash or other valuables, unauthorized charges, termination of utilities, and more.
And of course, if you notice things around the house appearing in strange places or disappearing altogether, be sure to talk to your doctor about getting screened for dementia. although currently there is no cure for dementiathere are several interventions that can improve the quality of life and delay its progression.