As much as we dread it, it’s only natural to become a bit more forgetful when we age. There’s a line–which, until now, has been barely visible–that separates being forgetful from the early stages of dementia.
Dr. Zainoor Ismail from the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary developed a new checklist of 34 questions that’s based on a whole slew of other studies. Using the checklist, Ismail hopes to identify symptoms of dementia earlier, which will improve planning for someone suffering from the disease.
Dementia often takes root in people who show small, unusual behavioural changes that are present for at least six months. A couple of the symptoms, for example, include losing interest in family or friends, becoming more anxious or irritable and acting as if strangers are familiar.
“Based off previous studies, even one symptom has been shown to increase the risk of cognitive decline,” said Ismail. “In fact, they may be the earliest symptoms of dementia that we didn’t pay attention to before.”
The survey isn’t to be taken by a person who may be developing dementia, though–not when they may not accurately remember their own behaviour. Instead, the survey’s meant for family members or caregivers.
The survey will be available to scientists around the world for feedback at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Toronto, meaning this survey may be developed even further.
If you’d like to learn more about identifying early signs of dementia, check out the video above.