Recognizing the early signs of dementia is not always so straight forward. Most of us think of dementia as a loss in memory. However, the early signs of dementia can include changes in characteristics like behavior, mood and motivation. This article in reports on a group of experts who are trying to establish a new diagnosis called the Mild Behavioral Impairment (MBI). This new way of recognizing the early signs of dementia could potentially lead to earlier diagnosis of dementia and related diseases. This would eventually lead to earlier treatments for dementia and better long term care for those who are at risk.

Experts are attempting to form an MBI checklist. It would identify changes in motivation, socially appropriate behavior, and impulse control. This checklist and potential new way of diagnosing dementia does not come without its flaws. It is important to recognize that not all those who exhibit the warning signs will go on to develop dementia and it may unfortunately lead to excessive diagnosing, unnecessary treatments, and of course, unneeded worry from loved ones. Sometimes changes in behavior, mood, or motivation are just a part of normal aging. The individual should be evaluated by a professional in order to confirm a diagnosis.

Dr. Zahinoor Ismail MD, a neuro-psychiatrist and assistant professor at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary, advises that more research is required before the MBI can be put into practice. Still, he is hopeful that this will begin to help patients be monitored more closely if they have been identified as high risk of developing dementia.