What Are the Top Early Signs and Symptoms of Dementia?

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerFebruary 27, 2019

As dementia reaches epidemic proportions worldwide, it’s only natural to become concerned with our parents or senior loved ones becoming forgetful. However, dementia is more than just forgetfulness and can occur within a variety of potential diseases. If you’re becoming increasingly worried about a loved one, it’s helpful to know the early signs of dementia to understand if or when your family might need to seek out a healthcare professional’s guidance.

Learn more about the top 10 early warning signs and symptoms of dementia.

Early Symptoms of Dementia

More than mere forgetfulness, dementia is a neurodegenerative condition that involves the impairment of cognitive skills and memory.

To be diagnosed with dementia, a person must exhibit at least two types of impairment that significantly interfere with everyday life.

In addition to trouble remembering, someone may also experience impairments with:

  • Communication
  • Focus
  • Language
  • Reasoning

The Top 10 Early Signs of Dementia

In order to encourage early medical intervention, the Alzheimer’s Association has assembled these top early signs of dementia.

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms of dementia in a parent or senior loved one, you should schedule an appointment with a physician:

1. A lack of problem-solving skills.

In the early stages of dementia, your loved one may be unable to manage a budget, forget to pay their bills or have trouble following a familiar recipe. Things may take longer than they used to as processing problems and solving them will take more energy.

2. Confused speech.

It can be difficult for people in the early stages of the disease to follow or join a conversation. They may have trouble recalling the name of familiar items and struggle with vocabulary.

3. Confusion.

Someone with dementia will often lose track of space and time, forgetting the day or week. He or she may easily forget where they are and even how they got there.

4. Difficulty completing once familiar tasks.

Completing daily tasks can be difficult even in the early stages of the disease. This can manifest itself in getting lost while driving to a familiar location, forgetting the rules of a game or having trouble remembering how to manage daily chores and housework.

5. Forgetfulness that interferes with daily life.

A person in the early stages of dementia will often forget things that he or she has recently learned, or forget important dates and events. He or she may increasingly rely on memory aids or family and friends for appointments. This is different from a typical age-related change where a person will sometimes forget names but remember them later.

6. Misplacing items.

A person with the disease may put items in inappropriate places and then have trouble retracing his or her steps to find the item. This may increase as dementia progresses and can lead the person to accuse others of theft.

7. Poor judgment.

People with dementia are frequently targeted by scammers because of poor judgment. A person with the disease is more likely to expose private personal information or give money to a telemarketer. They may also have trouble keeping themselves clean and well-kept, forgetting to do laundry or take a shower.

8. Spatial and visual disorientation.

The disease can also manifest itself as vision problems and people may have trouble seeing certain colors or contrast, causing issues with driving.

9. Sudden changes in mood and personality.

People in the early stages of dementia may also experience sudden shifts in mood and personality. They can become anxious, fearful, paranoid and easily upset.

10. Withdrawal from social or work activities.

Someone in the early stages of the disease may begin to isolate themselves from social or work gatherings because of other changes like confusion, disorientation and loss of speech. They may withdraw from a social club out of confusion or fear.

If you have noticed any of these symptoms of dementia in a parent or senior loved one, seek a healthcare professional’s guidance. Obtaining an early diagnosis of the disease is critical to maximizing treatment options, participating in clinical trials and planning for the future.

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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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