How to Spot the Early Signs & Symptoms of Dementia

By 2025, it is estimated that there will be more than 1m people in the UK with dementia. The quality of life of these people will depend to a large extent on how early they are diagnosed. Yet, very few of us are clear about what to look for.

According to the NHS website, possible early signs of dementia include:

  • memory loss
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty with familiar daily tasks, such as confusion over the correct change when shopping
  • struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
  • being confused about time and place
  • mood changes

Where one or more of these symptoms occur at a level that doesn’t significantly affect everyday life it is called minor cognitive impairment. Sometimes the symptoms don’t get significantly worse for a long time, but sometimes they are an early indicator of dementia.

Cognitive impairment isn’t (as many people believe) ‘all part of getting old.’ If symptoms are observed, it’s essential to get a proper diagnosis as quickly as possible.


The largest cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease. People in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may ask the same question repetitively, become confused in unfamiliar environments or become withdrawn or anxious.

In the longer term it’s possible that there will be a blood test that can quickly diagnose common causes of dementia. Early test results are encouraging and further research is underway.

As a family member or close friend, you are likely to be the first people to notice any signs for concern. It’s important to encourage the person to get a proper diagnosis as soon as possible.

While the facts can be hard to face, the reality may be less scary than the uncertainty. And it’s always better to know so that appropriate steps can be planned.

In the early stages, dementia symptoms can often be managed. But eventually it may be necessary to receive residential care at a home equipped to deliver dementia care such as Sherborne House in Yeovil.

How to Talk About Care Needs with Someone You Love

Put yourself in the position of an older person who is starting to struggle with everyday tasks, or perhaps even experiencing the early stages of dementia. Facing up to the situation isn’t always easy. They may have spent their whole life being the person who gives advice and support to their family, they may always have been independent and proud.

Accepting the passage of time and that you need care is a difficult step and needs to be handled carefully. For family members, starting the conversation about care needs can be daunting. It can involve a sensitive role-reversal where you are suddenly expected to be the one giving the advice. There’s an understandable anxiety about how your loved one will react and, quite likely, questions about the cost of care.

Putting it off never helps

In 2016, the charity Independent Age commissioned research to investigate attitudes to conversations about care in later life. The study revealed a stark contrast between what we believe and what we do. 82% of the people in the survey said it was fairly or very important to talk to older relatives about ‘where they would like to live if they could no longer live at home’, but just 23% said they had done so.

Perhaps this was just a question of timing in some cases. But, for whatever reason, starting the conversation about care seems to be the hardest part.

Ultimately, your concern will be to ensure that your family member receives the care they need. You’re much more likely to achieve this without a major upset if you are prepared and well-informed.

How to have the conversation

Being an unpaid carer can sometimes leave you feeling exasperated because of a particular event. This is the worst possible time to start the conversation. You also don’t want to produce care home brochures ‘out of the blue,’ with no preparation.

First, you have to change your relative’s perceptions about their need for care and what care might mean. If they don’t accept that they need care or don’t think that their opinions are being respected it’s going to be a struggle to get them to consider anything.

Here are a few suggestions that may help:

  • Choose the time and the place carefully. Make sure that it’s not a time when either of you is likely to be tired or stressed and that the conversation can take as long as you need. Choose somewhere calm where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Be well informed. There are many care options including care at home, assisted living and care homes. Make sure you know what all of these entail, including costs.
  • Find out about possible financial support that might be available and what you need to do to access this.
  • Consider involving a friend or person that your relative respects so that there is an independent voice in the conversation.

Websites such as Age UK have plenty of useful information about different care options, costs and financial support. You can also contact the team at Altogether Care who will be happy to talk through your options and help you prepare to have the conversation with confidence.

Debbie Achieves 10 Year Service Award

We would like to congratulate Debbie at Steepleton Manor for 10 years of working with Altogether Care.

She was presented flowers and £100 gift voucher to spend as a big thank you for her fantastic service over the years.

Thank you and congratulations Debbie!

Employee of the Month – March 2019

Each month, care home and Care at Home office managers hand-pick team members who demonstrate a passion for their role and go above and beyond to provide an excellent standard of care and support to residents.

We would like to congratulate our Employees of the Month for March…

Adam Everett at Steepleton Manor!

Adam is a cheerful reliable and thoughtful person that residents can always rely on. He demonstrates great leadership skills when the senior staff are unavailable to work a shift. Adam is a valued member of staff who gives a great quality of care and understanding to all residents at Steepleton Manor.

Some recent day to day activities