What Are The Early Signs Of Dementia? - 24|7 Nursing Care

What Are The Early Signs Of Dementia?

When some of the early signs of dementia could just be a typical age-related change in cognition, how can an individual tell the difference?

The Alzheimer’s Association lists ten warning signs of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Any of the signs on their own may not indicate a degenerative brain disease, but if a person notices more than one, or any one of them causing constant interruptions to daily life, they should call a doctor as soon as possible. 

Memory Loss

Most individuals forget appointments and names from time to time. They may recall the name, place, or engagement later and even laugh at their forgetfulness. These “senior moments” can be common and may be just a typical age-related change in cognition. Yet, if an individual is often asking the same questions over and over, or increasingly relying on family members or notes to remind them of learned information they should know, then it could be something more than age-related absentmindedness. Memory loss is often one of the earliest signs of dementia. 

Diminished Concentration

The Mayo Clinic lists “difficulty reasoning or problem-solving” as one of the common symptoms of dementia. Often, individuals in the early stages of this degenerative disease have difficulty planning or solving problems. Their ability to concentrate, not being what it once was, causes them to be unable to follow a plan or a set of steps. Everyday activities such as completing a recipe or keeping track of monthly bills become difficult, if not impossible. Making the occasional error when balancing a checkbook may be a common age-related change, but when an individual begins to find these tasks difficult, frustrating, or hopeless, it may be an early warning sign.  

Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks

Many seniors need help with newer technology like setting up a Netflix account or updating their Facebook profiles. However, everyday tasks they’ve been engaging in for years should continue to be easy. If an individual suddenly finds it difficult to organize a shopping list or forgets where they keep the laundry detergent, it may be more than just a technological bell curve. A person in the early stages of dementia will often find it difficult to complete familiar daily tasks. 

Confusion with Space and Time

When a person begins to lose the ability to navigate where they are in space and time it is often a clue that they may be suffering from some form of dementia. Most individuals forget what day it is from time to time, but those suffering from dementia will have trouble understanding the date, season, and passage of time. More and more their sense of the world exists only in the here and now. 

Difficulty with Visual and Spatial Abilities

Although for most people, vision changes as they get older, those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia have trouble with vision and spatial relationships. They may have trouble reading and driving because they are unable to distinguish objects from each other or judge the distance between them. To rule out dementia, an individual should make an appointment with an eye specialist. Common age-related causes of visual impairment include cataracts, presbyopia, age-related macular degeneration, primary open-angle glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.  

Trouble Speaking and Joining Conversations early signs of dementia

If a person begins to forget the names of common objects or starts to lose their place mid-speech often, it could be an early warning sign of dementia. They may also suddenly stop speaking, repeat themselves, or ask the same question more than once. Although most individuals may forget a few vocabulary words now and again if the change in speech is sudden and continuous a medical professional should be consulted. 


At least once in their lives, each person has walked into a room and completely forgotten what they were there to do. For a person in the early stages of dementia, this event happens more and more often. The disorientation they feel causes them to be unable to remember where they left an object or retrace their steps. As commonly reported by caregivers, a person with dementia will accuse another of stealing or hiding an object in question.   

Poor Judgement

An individual in the early stages of dementia may begin to exhibit poor judgment and decision-making skills. If a person begins to neglect their hygiene or begins to spend money haphazardly, they may be experiencing dementia. Values, and therefore the way individuals make decisions, change over time, but if the change seems abrupt and completely out of character for an individual, it may be more than just age-related changes in preference.

Withdrawal and Isolation 

Challenges with concentration, speech, disorientation, along with many of the many other symptoms mentioned above, may cause a person to feel less confident at work and in social activities. This loss of confidence in their own abilities may lead them to withdraw and become increasingly more isolated. If an individual is retreating from their life, it is fundamentally important to help them re-engage with society. As reported by the Center for Disease Control, social isolation was associated with about a 50% percent increased risk of dementia. Withdrawal and isolation are both symptoms of dementia and contributors to the disease.  

Psychological Changes

The following psychological changes are listed by the Mayo Clinic as symptoms of dementia: 

  • Personality changes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations

A person living with dementia may suddenly become suspicious of loved ones or increasingly agitated when their routine is disrupted. Typical age-related personality changes may include feeling irritable when a person is out of their comfort zone. The difference between dementia and an age-related change is the suddenness and degree of the change. 

Get Tested

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the symptoms listed, it is important to consult a doctor as soon as possible. An initial evaluation may include tests to rule out poor sleep, depression and stress, underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), and vitamin deficiencies (like B1 and B12), according to Harvard Medical School

Call Us 

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be exceptionally difficult and stressful. It takes an emotional toll, and sometimes a physical toll, on the caregiver. The Alzheimer’s Association notes that 35 percent of caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s, or another dementia, report that their health has gotten worse due to care responsibilities. An in-home caregiver, even just part-time, can help alleviate this stress while also providing the care that the individual needs.

There are a variety of options available for an in-home care referral for dementia patients. Contact us for a free in-home consultation to learn more about the options for your unique needs at 786-518-3622 (Miami-Dade) or 954-949-1332 (Broward).