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What are the Early Signs of Dementia? Watch Out for These Symptoms

What are the Early Signs of Dementia? Watch Out for These Symptoms

The early symptoms of dementia may be subtle and unnoticeable; but the sooner you detect them, the earlier you or your loved ones can get the treatment that may slow down this disease’s progression. What are the early signs of dementia?

Dementia, Defined

Contrary to popular belief, dementia is not a specific disease. Rather, it refers to a group of related symptoms (syndrome) that severely affect the patient’s memory, general thinking, behavior, and social abilities. Dementia symptoms result from brain damage caused by different diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Dementia can happen to anyone, but it is most common in people over the age of 65. However, it’s important to remember that dementia symptoms are not a normal part of aging. Younger-onset dementia is also possible; it typically happens to people in their 40s and 50s.

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The Early Signs of Dementia

While progressive dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease is not treatable yet, early diagnosis is still crucial.

Detecting the warning signs of dementia helps the patient and their family take control of their condition. At the very least, it allows them to explore possible treatment options that may temporarily improve symptoms. Finally, an early diagnosis gives the family a chance to prepare themselves for the possible effects of dementia in their lives.

Below are the early signs of dementia:

Memory loss

Fleeting and infrequent memory loss naturally happens, especially when we have many things on our plate. We can forget about an acquaintance’s surname, a few digits in a phone number, or a doctor’s appointment, but we’ll most likely recall the details later on.

Dementia-related memory loss is different. The patient often loses their memory of recently-learned things and is unable to remember them at all.

Difficulty in performing familiar tasks

One of the early warning signs of dementia is notable difficulties in performing routine or regular activities.

Stress and distractions can make us lose our focus on specific tasks, but we’ll probably recover quickly. People with dementia, on the other hand, have difficulty in “snapping out of it.”

They may find it challenging to operate a familiar device, get confused about payments while shopping, or have trouble preparing their meals.

Disorientation with time and place

While we can associate the first two warning signs with stress and distractions, it’ll be difficult to explain disorientation with time and place.

People with dementia may think that they’re back sometime in their past or wonder how they arrived in a particular place. They may also get lost in a familiar street and worry about not knowing how to go back home.

what are the early signs of dementia

Difficulties in decision-making and problem-solving

Dementia patients may have difficulties in making decisions about simple tasks.

Common examples include dressing inappropriately for the occasion and not consulting a doctor for an obvious medical problem. At times, patients may leave their belongings in inappropriate places, such as keeping their keys inside the refrigerator.

Problems in finding the right words and following a conversation

The early signs of dementia include language problems that make it hard for the patient to follow a conversation or keep it going.

One of the earliest problems in language among people with dementia is forgetting names of things, even common ones. They may instead act out the action performed by the object or describe its purpose as a substitute for naming it.

Trouble with numbers

The early signs of dementia include having trouble with numbers. We sometimes make mistakes in computing our expenses and paying our bills, but people with dementia may totally forget what numbers are and how they work.

Personality and behavioral changes

Finally, the early warning signs of dementia also involve changes in behavior and personality.

Patients may exhibit extreme mood swings from happiness to tears and anger for no apparent reason. They may also become withdrawn and suspicious of the people around them. Additionally, they may lose interest in previously enjoyed activities.

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When to Seek Medical Help

In case you experience the early signs of dementia, or observe them in your loved ones, set an appointment with the doctor. Talk to them about the symptoms you noticed and how frequently they occur.

The doctor will then perform tests to ascertain if the symptoms are indeed related to dementia or another underlying condition is causing them. According to experts, conditions like depression, substance abuse, and brain tumors can also lead to dementia-like symptoms.

Learn more about Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease Here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


The 10 warning signs of dementia
Accessed November 20, 2020

Warning signs of dementia
Accessed November 20, 2020

Dementia – early signs
Accessed November 20, 2020

Accessed November 20, 2020

Symptoms of dementia
Accessed November 20, 2020

Reversible dementias
Accessed November 20, 2020

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Feb 03
Medically reviewed by Nicole Aliling, M.D.