12 Most Common Warning Signs of Dementia


Before we begin, it’s important we understand what Dementia is, and what it is not. Dementia is a term referring to an inability of the brain to function properly. It affects all areas of life since our brains are our body’s control center. When the control center is damaged, “normal” functions become more difficult, even impossible.

Dementia is a term encompassing many different diseases including Alzheimer’s, Vascular Dementia, Lewy Body Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, Downs Syndrome, and many more.

Dementia is NOT A NORMAL PART OF AGING. It is a disease.

While there are many different warning signs of Dementia, the following are the most common symptoms.

1)    Memory loss or Mild cognitive impairment

Our loved one can often remember the past, even decades ago, but a person with early-stage dementia can have difficulty remembering yesterday or last week. They may forget little things, like paying an electric bill or a regular lunch date.

2)    Behavioral changes

Personality changes that may include the opposite manners or personality traits—for example, becoming cranky when they were always easy going or becoming super cheery when they had generally been grumpy.

3)    Disorientation

Difficulty making decisions or getting lost going to familiar places. Confusion about the day, date, or time of day and not remembering how to get the information.

4)    Declining motor function

They can no longer drive to the grocery store or operate the stove. Later, the individual may need assistance with very routine matters, such as bathing, dressing, eating, and other day-to-day activities.

5)   Paranoia

Behavior that’s described as paranoid and suspicious may stem from feelings that they are losing control. They may become angry and accuse caregivers, doctors, and friends of theft, lying, or rude behavior.

6)    Loss of Interest

Those who suffer from dementia may lose interest and passion in the hobbies, friends, and other activities they once loved. Often the result is a person who may not want to leave the house or participate in activities or hobbies they once enjoyed. They become in danger of feeling alienated and isolated. Keeping them active and social is a constant struggle for loved ones and caretakers.

7)    Repetitive Behavior

Since dementia triggers memory loss and confusion, patients may repeat themselves, either in conversation or activities. They may not remember if they just asked a question, had visitors, if they bathed, or even if they’ve eaten or not.

8)    Hallucinations and Delusions

A delusion is described as the believing of false things, however, hallucinations are different. When suffering a hallucination, your loved one has a false perception of reality. It can involve an event, objects, or other people and it’s sensory. They can hear, see, taste, and smell things that don’t exist.

9)    Impaired Motor Skills

A person with dementia can have changes in the way they walk. A long stride may now be short or reduced to shuffling.  Frequent tripping and falling can occur as balance may be affected.  As symptoms worsen, patients may lose their ability to control their bladder and bowels or to walk. They may not remember that they have fallen or the circumstances surrounding bruises or even broken bones. This, among other symptoms noted above, is a big reason why dementia patients need frequent monitoring.

10)    Sexual Actions

Dementia patients may become sexual without realizing that their actions are inappropriate. Patients may remove their clothing, expose themselves in public, or say tasteless things to strangers and caregivers.

11)    Poor Judgment

They may seem to make strange choices, such as not taking care of their personal hygiene or wearing inappropriate clothing for current weather conditions. Poor judgment might also include investing in questionable ventures.

12)    Communication Difficulties

This is not just occasionally forgetting a word. People with dementia may have difficulty following instructions, whether written or verbal. They may often have trouble finding the right words for what they mean. A patient may seem to struggle to get their idea or thoughts across, occasionally substituting common words for words that do not make sense. Speech may also be affected. An inability to pronounce certain words may develop.


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I am an author, speaker, caregiver, and Grammy. The latter is by far the most fun! Having been a primary caregiver 3x, I realized so many lessons were learned too late to benefit my Dad who passed of Parkinson's Disease. I resolved to write a book to make life easier and safer for other caregivers that would get them ideas, inspiration, and lessons learned. It's called "Caregiving: How To Hold On While Letting Go" available on Amazon. I am a Certified Caregiver Consultant and Advocate as well as a Community Educator for the Alzheimer's Assoc. and Founder of The PurpleVine LLC

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