Early Warning Signs of Dementia

Signs of Dementia | Anchorage Memory Care

Dementia is one of the top concerns for those with aging loved ones. Signs of dementia can appear quickly or take years to worsen, disguising themselves as typical aging characteristics. However, with an early diagnosis, the more time your loved one will have to prepare for the future. That is one reason it’s essential to notice the early signs of dementia.

Early Warning Signs of Dementia

  • Memory loss. Everyone forgets things from time to time. For example, where we put our car keys or what we were getting ready to do as soon as we walked into a room. We all lose our trains of thought sometimes. However, those who may be experiencing early signs of dementia will likely forget things on a more regular basis. Short-term memory especially becomes an issue.
  • Difficulty concentrating and carrying out routine tasks. Individuals in the beginning stages of dementia may have trouble focusing on tasks. This can include simple things they are accustomed to, such as writing a letter to a friend or even dressing.
  • Confusion about time and place. Most people tend to forget what day of the week it is occasionally. This can be a frequent occurrence in individuals with dementia. Unfortunately, it is also a very common early warning sign for someone to completely forget where they are, even if it’s someplace familiar. It is even possible for those with early dementia to forget how they even got somewhere. This goes back to the issue of short-term memory loss and can present dangerous and frightening situations for individuals with dementia.
  • Changes in mood, behavior, or personality. This symptom might not be as apparent as some others at first. People’s attitudes constantly change, whether they are experiencing dementia or not. However, overall, personalities don’t just change overnight. For example, people with early dementia may suddenly start lashing out more or become more easily irritable when they used to be level-headed. They may become flustered by something not going their way or doing what they want when, in the past, it would not have posed an issue to them.
  • Difficulty following conversations or finding the right words. The language center of the brain is affected by dementia. This can cause individuals to have a hard time finding the appropriate words to use in a conversation. They may also have difficulty following along when others are speaking, unable to remember or fully comprehend what has just been said to them. This may present as an inappropriate response from the individual if asked a question. For example, asking a loved one what they plan on doing that day, and they respond with something like, “Ok, I’ll call you Tuesday.”
  • They have impaired judgment/poor decision-making. This symptom can be especially troubling for loved ones but is a tell-tale sign of early dementia. Individuals may start doing things that can put them in harm’s way, such as not looking both ways before crossing a street or wearing summer clothing out in cold weather.
  • Lack of interest. People experiencing dementia may start losing interest in things they once loved. This could present as withdrawal from family get-togethers or no longer engaging in a hobby they’ve loved for years.


Keep in Mind…

Remember that your loved one probably won’t display all these symptoms in the beginning stages. Dementia affects everyone differently, even members of the same family. For example, your great uncle’s symptoms could be entirely different than your grandmother’s.

The timeframe of symptoms will vary from individual to individual as well. Some people’s symptoms may get worse gradually over time. On the other hand, some people’s symptoms may worsen rapidly. This usually is connected to whatever condition is causing dementia, whether it’s progressive or not. This is another reason why it’s so important to pay close attention to these and encourage your loved one to meet with their general practitioner immediately if you or your loved one suspects dementia.

Also, remember that many older adults may experience varying degrees of these symptoms. Some level of age-related cognitive decline is standard and shouldn’t be confused with dementia. This does not necessarily mean that dementia is at hand. If symptoms worsen or start inhibiting your loved one from being able to carry out daily tasks, encourage them to speak to a physician ASAP.

What to Do If You Suspect a Loved One Has Dementia

Bringing up the possibility that your loved one may be experiencing dementia should be done delicately. Fortunately, you’ve already taken the first step in getting them help: Learning the signs of dementia. So, what comes next?

  • Have a conversation. Casually bring up the changes you have noticed with your loved one. Please make sure they are in a comfortable environment while doing this. Take care not to make them feel threatened, especially if they have experienced changes in behavior. Suggest they see their doctor to discuss the differences and search for reasons they might be occurring. If they are hesitant, offer another reason (on a different occasion) they might see their doctor, such as getting their yearly check-up. Contact the Alzheimer’s Association Helpline (800-272-3900) for more suggestions and support.
  • Offer assistance. It can be overwhelming and scary for individuals to consider that something could seriously be wrong with them. For close family members and friends, just offering to seek help can ease some of their worries. Not only can you provide moral support, but you can also step in as a liaison. You can write down details about your loved one’s symptoms/changes so that they don’t forget to discuss them with their care provider and any questions they may think of ahead of time.



Discovering that a loved one may have dementia can be worrisome. But the sooner a proper diagnosis is received, the better their chance for treatment and planning for the future.

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