8 Signs of Dementia that Everyone Should Know

18 May, 2017
Although in many cases dementia cannot be prevented or stopped, it’s essential to be aware of the signs and find a treatment that will help you cope with it. The sooner you detect cognitive impairment, the more likely it is that you will preserve your quality of life.

Dementia is a syndrome that is typically progressive in nature. It’s characterized by the loss of cognitive functions.

Your cognitive functions give you the ability to remember things, your intellect, and your ability to carry out your daily activities.

However, dementia goes beyond what is considered the normal consequences of aging and is usually a response to other primary or secondary diseases that affect the brain.

According to data from the World Health Organization, there are about 47.5 million people around the world with dementia. Each year, doctors diagnose 7.7 million more. Today, it causes countless disabilities and dependence among the elderly.

Several therapies can help cope with dementia. However, it continues to be overwhelming for both the patients as well as their caregivers and family members.

The most worrying part is the fact that many people ignore this disease. Although it is fairly common, they don’t know how it progresses.

Because it’s so important to know how to detect the symptoms in order to take action in a timely manner, we want to share the eight primary signs of dementia.

Find out what they are!

1. Difficulty finding words

First of all, one of the earliest signs of dementia is difficulty finding the right words to express your thoughts.

Patients who are starting to develop this condition may spend several minutes trying to recall a specific word. It may even be a word that they use all the time, but they just can’t recall it.

2. Problems understanding time

People who are at high risk for developing this disorder have serious difficulties understanding what occurs in the past, present, and future.

Often, when they talk about timing, they don’t understand what it means or have a tendency to confuse the order of things.

3. Short-term memory loss

Problems with short-term memory might seem common. However, this is actually an early sign of wear and tear on the brain due to dementia.

Being unable to remember important events or things that have occurred just hours or days before typically indicates that something is wrong with your brain function.

When they enter a room, a person with dementia may also not remember what they were going to do there in the first place.

4. Mood swings

Due to the changes in brain chemistry that come with the onset of dementia, people with the disease often suffer from depressed or irritable moods.

Sudden changes in personality or behavior could be a sign that your cognitive functions are deteriorating.


5. Difficulty performing daily tasks

Another major symptom is difficulty carrying out many of their ordinary or everyday tasks.

Someone who has cognitive function impairment may become incapable of accomplishing tasks at work. This leads to very simple errors or even mistakes in household chores.

6. Inability to recognize places

As dementia progresses, patients begin having a harder time recognizing the places they usually spend time.

In fact, they might even feel confused or lost inside their own home.

Not remembering how or why you came to a particular place, or not knowing where you are, are strong signs of dementia.

7. Lethargy

In addition, the loss of cognitive function brings with it a series of chemical reactions. These occur both in the patient’s state of mind and their ability to maintain physical abilities.

As a consequence, the person starts to feel more tired doing normal activities. They also lose the motivation that they previously enjoyed.


8. Difficulty writing

Just as problems can develop with finding the right words to speak, those affected by dementia often have difficulty writing like they used to.

Changes in penmanship and difficulty expressing oneself by writing are a red flag that they should seek help.

Although in many cases dementia cannot be prevented or stopped, it’s essential to be aware of the signs and find a treatment that will help you cope with it.

The sooner you detect cognitive impairment, the more likely it is that you will preserve your quality of life.

  • Barba, A. L., Kelly Changizi, B., Higgins, D. S., Factor, S. A., & Molho, E. S. (2012). Dementia. In Parkinson’s Disease, Second Edition. https://doi.org/10.1201/b12948
  • Livingston, G., Sommerlad, A., Orgeta, V., Costafreda, S. G., Huntley, J., Ames, D., … Mukadam, N. (2017). Dementia prevention, intervention, and care. The Lancet. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31363-6
  • McKhann, G. M., Knopman, D. S., Chertkow, H., Hyman, B. T., Jack, C. R., Kawas, C. H., … Phelps, C. H. (2011). The diagnosis of dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease: Recommendations from the National Institute on Aging-Alzheimer’s Association workgroups on diagnostic guidelines for Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s and Dementia. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jalz.2011.03.005
  • Hampson, C., & Morris, K. (2016). Dementia: Sustaining Self in the Face of Cognitive Decline. Geriatrics (Basel, Switzerland), 1(4), 25. https://doi.org/10.3390/geriatrics1040025
  • Jonker C, Geerlings MI, Schmand B. Are memory complaints predictive for dementia? A review of clinical and population-based studies. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2000;15(11):983‐991. doi:10.1002/1099-1166(200011)15:11<983::aid-gps238>3.0.co;2-5
  • Berry B. (2014). Minimizing confusion and disorientation: cognitive support work in informal dementia caregiving. Journal of aging studies, 30, 121–130. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaging.2014.05.001