Lesser known symptom of dementia could be spotted with a simple test

Alzheimers Research UK explain 'what is dementia?'

Dementia is a syndrome, which is a group of related symptoms, linked to the ongoing decline of the brain.

Depending on the type of dementia people can experience different effects, with some of the most common signs including memory loss and personality changes.

However, some symptoms are less well-known and less obvious.

As dementia affects almost one million people in the UK it is important to be aware of as many of the signs as possible.

And while there is no known cure for dementia as of yet, the sooner a person is able to receive treatment and support the better quality of life they can have.

Many of us are aware of the more common signs of dementia.

But according to charity Alzheimer Scotland there is one “lesser known” sign that could be detected with a simple test.

It explained that “losing track of time” is one symptom to look out for.

“Losing track of time could be memory loss, or it could be that the brain can no longer read an analogue clock,” it said.

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To test whether a person is affected, you could ask them to draw the hands of a clock to show the current time.

Alzheimer Scotland said: “In fact, a ‘clock test’ can be used by doctors to determine early signs of dementia.

“A person will be asked to draw the hands of a blank clock at a particular time.”

If the clock is drawn incorrectly or abnormally, such as if the numbers are in the wrong places, this indicates the possibility of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Any mistakes are counted as a “fail” for the test, whereas an accurate clock is a “pass”.

Also known as the Alzheimer’s clock-drawing test (or CDT), it was initially developed in the 1900s to assess soldiers who had experienced head injuries.

Since the 1980s it has been used to gauge whether someone has dementia.

One study, published in Dementia and Neuropsychologia journal in 2009, compared 12 existing studies looking at the efficacy of the CDT as a means for determining whether someone has dementia.

“The Clock Drawing Test (CDT) is a simple neuropsychometric instrument that can be easily applied to assess several cognitive functions,” it said.

“Over the past 20 years, the CDT has aroused considerable interest in its role for the early screening of cognitive impairment, especially in dementia.”

Of the 12 studies, eight found “good reliability” between the CDT scales and other tests.

But it concluded: “Despite the mixed results in these studies, the CDT appears to be a good screening test for dementia.”

Other symptoms of dementia can include problems with:

  • Memory loss
  • Thinking speed
  • Mental sharpness and quickness
  • Language, such as using words incorrectly, or trouble speaking
  • Understanding
  • Judgement
  • Mood
  • Movement
  • Difficulties doing daily activities.

If you think you or someone you know is displaying signs of dementia you should speak to a GP.

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