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Some Dementia Warning Signs May Appear Years in Advance

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July 27, 2023 •  Emily Hicks Law, PLLC
As we grow older, many of us fear the possibility that we could be diagnosed with dementia. Few things are more frightening than the thought of losing our independence to this progressive disease.  Researchers at the University of Cambridge now say signs of dementia may appear up to nine years in advance of when the illness is typically diagnosed.
Identifying the early signs of dementia can potentially lead to effective treatment of underlying factors, significantly impacting long-term health, according to a recent article by Money Talks News titled "3 Dementia Warning Signs That May Appear Years in Advance."
The study's first author, Nol Swaddiwudhipong, a junior doctor at the University of Cambridge, emphasized the importance of being able to screen individuals at high risk, such as those over 50, with high blood pressure or insufficient exercise, in order to intervene at an earlier stage and reduce their risk.
The research findings highlight key indicators of dementia that may manifest up to ten years before clear symptoms for diagnosis become apparent.
One significant sign is poorer performance on specific cognitive tests. The study analyzed data from half a million participants aged 40 to 69 in the United Kingdom, evaluating problem-solving abilities, memory, reaction times, and grip strength. Those who scored poorly on these tests were more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia. Swaddiwudhipong noted that patients showed cognitive impairment several years before noticeable symptoms, which were often subtle but affected various aspects of cognition.
Another warning sign is experiencing a recent fall. Individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's were more prone to falls within the previous year. Additionally, those with progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare neurological condition impacting balance, were over twice as likely to have experienced a fall compared to healthy individuals.
Furthermore, poor overall health was linked to a higher likelihood of developing various health conditions, including Parkinson's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.
Dr. Tim Rittman from the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge reassured individuals that occasional difficulties in recalling numbers should not cause undue concern. He emphasized that variations in cognitive abilities are natural among healthy individuals. However, he encouraged anyone who notices worsening memory or recall to consult their primary doctor.
Overall, early detection of dementia signs can pave the way for timely intervention and risk reduction, ultimately benefiting long-term health outcomes.

Reference: Money Talks News (Dec. 23, 2022) “3 Dementia Warning Signs That May Appear Years in Advance”

Suggested Key Terms: Dementia, Senior Health

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