Dementia's 10 least known symptoms you need to be aware of and how to spot them

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Dementia is on the rise in the US (Image: Getty Images)
Dementia is on the rise in the US (Image: Getty Images)

The ten least known symptoms of dementia have been revealed as cases of this brain-destroying disease continue to rise.

The horrendous disease, which can see patients forgetting their dearest family members, has been described by an expert as a "time bomb." Over one in 10 adults in the US over the age of 65 have it and one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another dementia.

Despite the threat it poses, a survey conducted by Opinium found that 34 per cent of respondents did not know do not know the symptoms of dementia. Another 16 per cent of participants incorrectly thought dementia is a normal part of ageing. Moreover, over 77 per cent of respondents are not aware of key risk factors for developing the illness.

According to the data, the top 10 least known symptoms of dementia are:

  • Preference for sweet food (79 per cent)
  • Loss of smell (76 per cent)
  • Seizures (73 per cent)
  • Bladder incontinence (63 per cent)
  • Becoming obsessive (60 per cent)
  • Repeated falls and fainting (59 per cent)
  • Visual hallucinations (56 per cent)
  • Appetite and weight loss (55 per cent)
  • Sleep disturbances (49 per cent)
  • Movement problems (41 per cent)

On the other hand, 88 per cent of people can identify memory loss as a symptom of dementia. Almost nine in 10 can identify memory loss (88 per cent) as a symptom of dementia.

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Justin Taurog, the Managing Director of Vitality Life who commissioned the study, said: "Our research shows that there is a gap in people’s understanding of dementia. "Dementia can affect anyone, and it’s vital that everyone is aware of the symptoms to look out for and what the risk factors are." Although science has taken huge leaps in the past 20 years, dementia is on the rise in the US.

Dr Oscar Lopez, director of the University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, told the Mirror: "One thing you need to emphasise is that the prevalence of dementia in general in the population is huge. It’s a time bomb.

"Because people are living longer. From the neck down we’re in really good shape. Because we can deal with heart problems very easily but the brain is still at risk of dementia. Especially Alzheimer’s."

Another expert also revealed key symptoms to look out for. Dr Nicole Purcell, a practising neurologist and senior director of clinical care at the Alzheimer's Association, revealed that there's not just one clear tell-tale sign of dementia. She said: "So it’s not a one size fits all situation. There isn’t just one symptom, I’d like there to be."

Changes to the patient's personality, their ability at work and even difficulty walking can all be indicators of looming dementia. But both our experts agreed the most common symptom is issues around memory.

Discussing the disease with our reporter, Dr Lopez said: "Mainly forgetfulness. Or finding difficulties finding the right word. Normally people remember the word five to ten minutes after they forgot it but people with dementia most likely won’t remember the word.

"Also people said 'I’m not the same, but I can not put that in words'. Or the family will say he or she is not the same person. They cannot put that in words. Sort of a feeling, that something is different." He added: "Sometimes the disease starts with a personality change, they are more disinhibited, they are more aggressive."

Dr. Nicole Purcell provided a broader definition to help patients and their loved ones identify the signs. She said: "We generally recommend that if a patient is not functioning at their baseline whether it be psychiatric or behavioural symptoms. Maybe they’re depressed when they’ve never had depression. Change in function. So they’re having difficulty walking or they can’t do the things they would normally do."

Charlie Jones

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