Early identification of the onset of dementia symptoms

Johan De Schepper

Referentiepersoon dementie
Staff member
Web site
Table of contents
  1. early identification of the onset of dementia symptoms
  1. early symptoms
  2. early identification
Early identification of the onset of dementia symptoms.

In the dutch language, 'Niet pluis gevoel' means that you have the feeling that something has changed, but you don't really know what and whether it is permanent. You instinctively feel that something is wrong.

As an adult educator, we would like to introduce the ‘Niet pluis index’ to you. By teaching this to your students, you ensure that they get to know early symptoms of dementia and they learn to fill in and use the 'Niet pluis index’. Dementia usually has an insidious onset. It is unclear to the person or the environment whether something is wrong or not. This is called the 'niet pluis' phase. People worry about changes in themselves or others.

These are usually subtle changes that vary from person to person and the type of dementia: they usually involve recurrent memory complaints, behavioral and personality changes. Everything that takes some effort and requires a mental effort, is a little more difficult. We think of following a conversation, planning a visit, keeping records, solving problems and making decisions, ... . These symptoms especially apply to the types of dementia that start with memory impairment. Fronto-temporal dementia is an exception. It mainly starts with behavioral and personality changes.

Check out the following information about the early signs of dementia : Warning signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia or watch the following videos : Alzheimers Disease – Early Signs or Spotting the signs of dementia,

We would like to introduce you the 'niet pluis index'. This is a tool that is used in Belgium and the Netherlands to map the first symptoms of dementia. On the basis of a number of statements, it is checked whether the behavior of the person has changed compared to the past. If there are clear changes compared to the past, the score is positive for this item. If 2 or more items are scored positively, an appointment with the general practitioner is recommended. It does not diagnose but gives a signal for a particular problem.

You can fill in the ‘niet pluis index’ with the person himself, family or carers or professional care providers. Multiple results from different individuals provide a more nuanced picture. In any case, it is important that the person gives permission in the ‘niet pluis’ phase and that the result is discussed with him/her.

Example of a ‘niet pluis index’ : formulier niet pluis gevoel.

Do you know similar tools? What is your experience with this? What difficulties do you possibly encounter?

In English the questions or statemants are :

About Memory
The client :
  • keeps forgetting what day it is.
  • often repeats itself without realizing it.
  • often tells the same story during a conversation.
  • can't always come up with certain words.
  • didn't understand the question. You notice it in the answer.
  • no longer knows the value of the money, can no longer pay independently.
  • is regularly lost.
  • forget to keep appointments.
  • regularly loses his/her wallet, handbag or other things.
  • has difficulty learning new things.
  • Comments
Complex and abstract actions
The client :
  • has difficulty preparing a meal.
  • to use his/her meal correctly.
  • to take care of themselves as before.
  • accepting help with washing.
  • to put on the clothes in the correct order.
  • to prepare the medication yourself.
  • to take the medication correctly.
  • keeping the cupboards in order.
  • with the use of electrical appliances.
  • Comments?
Personality changes
The client :
  • Is more introverted than before.
  • shows less interest in his/her past hobbies. (eg weekly card afternoon, reading the newspaper ...)
  • is in his/her bed more than before.
  • Looks sad.
  • is excessively sad as a result of a personal loss experience. (eg death, moving house ...)
  • is afraid that something 'bad' will happen to him/her.
  • can't concentrate, can't spend a lot of time on something.
  • is often tired and/or listless.
  • makes no sense.
  • no longer plans or sets goals.
  • complains more than usual.
  • has complaints about his/her memory disorders
  • Comments?
Social contact
The client :
  • feels alone.
  • has less or no social contacts with family, neighbors, friends ...
  • seeks less contact with others.
  • needs help to get in touch with family, neighbors, friends ...
  • prefers to isolate himself from the outside world.
  • Comments ?