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Behavioral Changes Could be the Key in Early Diagnoses of Dementia

Jul 25, 2016 03:58 AM EDT
Experts proposed the use of behavioral changes in a person as an indication of a very early stage of dementia
(Photo : Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

A group of neuropsychiatrists and Alzheimer's experts suggest suggests that sharp changes in the mood and behavior of an individual could indicate a very early stage of dementia.

According to the report from Tech Times, experts believe that some conditions, which are considered to be a psychiatric issue or just a mere part of aging, may also be "a stealth symptom" of dementia. Due to this, they have proposed the creation of a new diagnosis called mild behavioral impairment.

Mild behavioral impairment is proposed to be a clinical designation preceding mild cognitive impairment. Patients with mild cognitive impairment experience some cognitive problems but still able to perform most of their daily functions.

Under the proposal is a new 38-question checklist that could be used to identify people at greater risk of dementia. The checklist include questions pertaining changes in an individual's behavior, including anxiety, depression, agitation, impulsiveness and socially inappropriate.

According to the report from Daily Mail, experts have come up with the list of warning signs after following 282 people with cognitive impairment. They have observed 78 percent of the participants were affected by mood swings, 65 percent by impulse control, 52 percent by apathy, 28 percent by social inappropriateness and 9 percent by psychosis.

However, experts noted that the warning signs should last for about six months to be considered as an indication of early onset of dementia. Many conditions can cause some of the warning signs proposed by the experts. Menopause can also cause mood swings, depression and anxiety.

"There's the potential benefit of early diagnosis, identifying people more likely to decline," explained Dr. Kenneth Langa, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, in a report from New York Times. But "the flip side is overdiagnosis, labeling someone and getting people in the clinical cascade, where you start doing the test and people start doing more brain imaging and being at the doctor's more and getting more concerned."

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