‘Reluctance’ to clean yourself is ‘very early’ dementia sign – expert

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Dementia can be easy to spot in some cases. When someone has dementia, they struggle with everyday activities. You may notice a loved one misplace things and just struggle with simple activities due to memory issues. But according to dementia experts, some signs may be a lot more subtle such as people with Alzheimer’s disease becoming apathetic about things including personal hygiene.

Dorene M. Rentz, Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School in America, explained that one “very early sign” in people with Alzheimer’s disease may be a “reluctance” to do things such as play with relatives.

“This reluctance can creep into the lives of Alzheimer’s patients, even in very early stages of the disease,” she told the publication Prevention in the past.

And this apathy may extend to simple activities such as washing in the shower.

She added: “In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease when apathy begins to increase, the individual may become less concerned about how they look or wearing the same clothes or whether they showered.”

Family members might spot their relatives wearing the same clothes again and again.

The reason for this apathy can be because the front part of the brain called the frontal lobes are damaged in dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Society explains: “This part of the brain controls our motivation, planning, and sequencing of tasks.

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“If a person with apathy is withdrawn, stops doing things, and loses their confidence and abilities, their apathy can get worse.”

One 2014 study also found that apathy was “associated” with the buildup of damaging proteins in the brain known as amyloid.

In a brain with Alzheimer’s, high levels of this substance can clump together to form “plaques” between neurons. This disrupts how your brain works.

It’s important to look out for early signs of dementia as an early diagnosis can help “open the door to emotional, practical, legal and financial advice and support”, explains Alzheimer’s Society.

It can help them to know what’s going on with them and be able to better manage their condition.

The Social Care Institute for Excellence adds: “It will help to eliminate the possibility of other, potentially treatable, conditions with dementia-like symptoms being responsible for memory, communication, behaviour, and other problems.”

Other early symptoms that you might notice in someone with dementia include:

  • Confusion
  • Reduced concentration
  • Personality changes
  • Loss of ability to do everyday tasks.

People with dementia may have rapid mood swings that seem to have no cause, explains dementia Australia.

The NHS recommends seeing your GP if you are worried about your memory. Or, if you’re concerned about a relative, gently try to encourage them to visit your GP.

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