Doctors and research scientists are looking for ways to spot dementia symptoms earlier and earlier in the progression of the various diseases and conditions which cause them. The hope is that the earlier the symptoms can be correctly diagnosed, the earlier the patient can receive treatment which may slow the underlying disease's progression or even halt it.
It is recognized that Alzheimer's, for example, has already made inroads into the patient's brain well before symptoms are obvious to the patient or their loved ones who observe the changes. A recent study finds that evidence of Alzheimer's can actually be found as many as 25 years before the anticipated onset of the disease. The study was small and the results are preliminary. However, they do give a bit of insight into just how widespread the markers may be for those who have a genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease. Other diseases may not have the same markers that can be measured for early detection, unfortunately.
While that study looked at markers in such things as brain plaques in spinal fluid, earlier tests have indicated that a person's sense of smell may be an indicator of the onset of Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's, in early stages, damages parts of the brain which are important for smell making it difficult for patients to detect common scents. So, if your loved one starts showing an impaired ability to identify or detect scents, a trip to the doctor may be in order.
There are 10 additional warning signs you should be aware of and they should cause the patient to be evaluated by a doctor when they are noticed.