9 early signs of dementia

A guide to recognizing dementia onset

Tuesday 28 February 2023
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Dementia is a progressive neurological disorder that affects millions of people worldwide, causing cognitive decline and, ultimately, impacting daily life. The sooner you can identify the early signs of dementia, the better the chances are for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. This comprehensive blog post will explore nine early signs of dementia, providing insight into what to look for, how to support your loved ones, and the importance of early diagnosis. By recognizing these signs and symptoms, you can take the right steps to ensure the best possible outcome for those affected by this challenging condition.

Memory Loss Affecting Daily Life

One of the most common early signs of dementia is memory loss. People with dementia may forget essential information, such as appointments or conversations, and may need to rely on memory aids or ask for the same information repeatedly. According to the Alzheimer's Association, forgetting recently learned information is one of the most typical early symptoms of dementia. While occasional memory lapses are normal, it's essential to monitor significant, persistent memory loss that disrupts daily life.

Challenges in Planning or Solving Problems

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Another early sign of dementia is difficulty with planning or problem-solving. People with dementia might struggle to follow a familiar recipe, manage bills, or concentrate on complex tasks. As noted by the National Institute on Aging, this difficulty with tasks that require logical thinking and organization can be an early warning sign of dementia. It's essential to pay attention to these changes, especially if they occur more frequently or severely over time.

Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks

Individuals in the early stages of dementia may struggle with everyday tasks, such as driving to a known location, managing a budget, or remembering the rules of a favorite game. The Alzheimer's Association highlights that people with dementia may require assistance with tasks they previously performed with ease. If you or a loved one starts to have trouble completing routine activities, it's crucial to consult a healthcare professional.

Confusion with Time or Place

Dementia can cause disorientation with time and place. People with dementia might lose track of dates or seasons, forget where they are, or become confused about how they arrived at a specific location. According to the National Institute on Aging, confusion with time and place is a common early sign of dementia. Keep an eye out for persistent confusion or disorientation, as this may signal the need for further evaluation.

Trouble Understanding Visual Images or Spatial Relationships

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Visual and spatial difficulties can also be early signs of dementia. People with dementia may struggle to read, judge distances, or recognize colors and contrasts. The Alzheimer's Association states that problems with vision can make it difficult for individuals with dementia to complete tasks such as driving or dressing. If you notice a significant change in visual perception, it's essential to seek medical advice.

New Problems with Words or Speaking

Dementia can impact language skills, making it challenging for individuals to express themselves or understand others. People with dementia might struggle to find the right words, repeat phrases, or speak in a roundabout way. According to a study published in the journal Brain, language difficulties are common in the early stages of dementia. Be vigilant for changes in communication abilities, as they may indicate the onset of dementia.

Misplacing Items or Poor Judgment

Individuals with dementia may frequently misplace items, often putting them in unusual places. They may also exhibit poor judgment, such as spending money unwisely or neglecting personal hygiene. According to the National Institute on Aging, these changes in behavior can be early indicators of dementia. Be mindful of unusual decisions or difficulties keeping track of personal belongings, as these may signal the need for further assessment.

Withdrawal from Social Activities

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As dementia progresses, people may withdraw from social activities, hobbies, or events they once enjoyed. This withdrawal can be a result of memory loss, communication difficulties, or confusion. The Alzheimer's Association emphasizes that social withdrawal is a common early sign of dementia. If you notice yourself or a loved one who is becoming increasingly isolated, it's crucial to encourage social interaction and consult a healthcare professional.

Changes in Mood or Personality

Dementia can lead to changes in mood or personality, causing people to become irritable, anxious, or even depressed. A study published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that mood and personality changes often precede the more cognitive symptoms of dementia. Be attentive to shifts in mood or behavior, as these could be early warning signs of the condition.


Early detection of dementia is crucial for receiving the appropriate care and support necessary to manage the condition effectively. By recognizing these nine early signs of dementia, you can take proactive steps to seek help for yourself or a loved one. Consult a healthcare professional if you notice any of these symptoms, as early diagnosis can improve the dementia prognosis. Remember, it's never too early to take action and protect your cognitive health!