top of page

How to Identify the Early Signs of Dementia

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

A young woman hugging a smiling senior man on a couch.

Dementia is a progressive and often debilitating condition that affects memory, thinking, and cognitive abilities. While there is currently no cure for dementia, early detection can help individuals and their families prepare for the challenges ahead and potentially help to slow the progression of this cognitive disease. Recognizing the early signs of dementia is crucial, as it allows for timely intervention and improved quality of life for those affected. In this article, we will explore how to identify the early signs of dementia.

Memory Loss

One of the most common and noticeable signs of dementia is memory loss which disrupts daily life. This may manifest as forgetting recently learned information, repeating the same questions or stories, or an inability to recall important dates or events. While occasional forgetfulness is common, frequent memory lapses that interfere with daily functioning should raise concerns.

Difficulty with Familiar Tasks

Individuals with early-stage dementia often struggle to complete routine tasks they have performed for years, such as cooking, following a recipe, or operating household appliances. They may also have difficulty managing their finances, which can lead to missed bills or overspending.

Language Problems

Struggling to find the right words or losing a train of thought in the middle of a conversation is another common early sign of dementia. It may also be challenging for affected individuals to follow or join in on discussions, and they might lose track of conversations more easily.

Confusion with Time and Place

Those with dementia may become disoriented about time and place. They might forget what day or year it is, get lost in familiar surroundings, or find it difficult to remember appointments or scheduled events.

Difficulty with Planning and Problem Solving

Dementia can impair a person's ability to plan and make decisions. This can manifest as difficulties in following a familiar recipe or managing finances effectively. Organizing and completing tasks become more challenging.

Misplacing Items

Individuals with early dementia often misplace items and have difficulty retracing their steps to find them. They may put objects in unusual places, such as putting keys in the refrigerator or a wallet in the dishwasher.

Changes in Mood and Personality

Dementia can lead to changes in mood, behavior, and personality. Affected individuals may become confused, suspicious, anxious, or easily upset. They might withdraw from social activities or exhibit changes in their interests or social interactions.

Poor Judgment

Early signs of dementia can include poor judgment and decision-making. For example, they might give large sums of money to telemarketers or trust unscrupulous individuals. This can put them at risk of financial exploitation.

Withdrawal from Hobbies and Activities

People with dementia might lose interest in hobbies, activities, and social engagements they previously enjoyed. This withdrawal can be due to difficulties with memory, cognition, and frustration over their limitations.

Difficulty Following Instructions

Individuals with dementia may struggle to follow multi-step instructions or perform tasks that require a sequence of actions. This can impact their ability to perform daily activities, such as personal grooming or taking medication as prescribed.

It's important to note that the early signs of dementia can vary from person to person, and some individuals may exhibit certain symptoms more prominently than others. Additionally, some conditions can mimic dementia symptoms, such as depression or medication side effects, which is why it's crucial to consult a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation when early signs are noticed.

Early detection of dementia allows for timely medical intervention, planning for future care needs, and implementing strategies to improve the quality of life for those affected. If you or a loved one is showing these signs, don't delay seeking professional advice and support.


Discover more senior lifestyle tips & articles: here! Or, find your next favorite recipe: here!


bottom of page