Don't Miss These 10 Early Signs of Dementia

senior couple leaning their heads on one another's while sitting outside on a bench

Dementia affects more than 50 million people across the globe, with Alzheimer’s disease accounting for 60 to 80% of dementia cases. It causes memory impairment and other serious changes to cognitive abilities that interfere with daily life. The greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are 65 and older.

In the early stages of dementia, memory loss and other symptoms are mild and hard to distinguish from normal forgetfulness. While there’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, catching the disease early expands the opportunity for treatments that can slow its progression and improve quality of life. Keep reading to learn how to tell typical age-related cognitive changes from the early signs of dementia.  

 

Normal Forgetfulness vs. Signs of Dementia

Normal: Forgetting names or dates but remembering them later.
Not normal: Someone with dementia will use memory aids or other people to remember things they used to remember themselves. They may ask the same questions again and again, and be unable to recall freshly learned information like a name or a date.

Normal: Making occasional mistakes with finances or paying bills.
Not normal: You’ll notice that a person with dementia takes longer to do things than before. They may have difficulty following a plan with numbers or with multiple steps, for example, following a familiar recipe.  

Normal: Needing help to set a TV channel or figure out how to use the microwave.
Not normal: People with dementia find it hard to complete everyday tasks such as making a grocery list or driving to the store. Even activities of daily living such as bathing or getting dressed become increasingly difficult.

Normal: Uncertainty about the day of the week but figuring it out later.
Not normal: Someone with dementia will lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may forget where they are and how they got there.

Normal: Changes in vision related to aging.
Not normal: Changes in vision that greatly affect balance or reading. A person with Alzheimer’s or another dementia has trouble judging distance. This is especially worrisome when it comes to driving.

Normal: Occasionally forgetting the right word.
Not normal: Someone with dementia will develop new problems with speaking or writing. They may stop in the middle of a conversation with no idea of how to continue. They may struggle with naming a familiar object or use the wrong name for it.

Normal: Losing things but finding them later by retracing one’s steps.
Not normal: Losing belongings can be an early sign of dementia. This is especially true if someone is leaving items in unusual places or can’t retrace steps to find them.

Normal: Occasional poor judgment,  like forgetting to replace oil in the car.
Not normal:  Decreased judgment with possible serious consequences. A person with dementia may pay less attention to personal hygiene and keeping themselves clean, or behave impulsively, especially when dealing with money. 

Normal: Needing occasional time by oneself.
Not normal: Someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia may struggle with following a conversation and, as a result, will withdraw from family and friends. You may find it difficult to connect with them.   

Normal: Becoming irritable when a comfortable routine is disturbed.
Not normal: Dementia causes strong changes in mood and personality. Someone can become confused, anxious and fearful even in a familiar setting like their home, or when they’re with people they know.

If you’re unsure how to identify the early signs of Alzheimer’s or another dementia, don’t hesitate to reach out to our dementia care experts. In most cases what you’re seeing is probably normal forgetfulness, but the earlier the evaluation, the better it is for everyone concerned. Connect with us here.