What Are the Early Symptoms of Dementia?

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Distinguishing between normal memory loss and symptoms of dementia can be challenging. Here are some of the more common symptoms that are often associated with the early signs of dementia:


Dementia Diagram

Memory Loss

Memory changes may be subtle and tend to involve short-term memory. For example, your loved one may remember events from years past but is unable to tell you what they had for breakfast. They also may forget where they put something or why they came into a room. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.

Problems Speaking

Your loved one may have a hard time explaining things. They may search for the right words but just can’t seem to grasp them. They may repeat the same questions in a conversation after you’ve already answered them.

Difficulty Performing Tasks

People with dementia often find it difficult to complete everyday tasks that are so familiar, such as preparing a meal, using a vacuum cleaner or participating in a lifelong hobby.

Poor Judgment

No one has perfect judgment all of the time. Those with early dementia may dress without regard to the weather, such as wearing too many clothes in hot weather or very little clothing in cold weather. Individuals with dementia can also show poor judgment about money (making them targets for scam artists). Protect your loved one against scams.


People Living with Dementia Around the World

People with Dementia around the world

People Diagnosed with Dementia by Age and Gender

People diagnosed with Dementia by age and gender


Changes in Mood or Behavior

Someone in the early stages of dementia can have rapid mood swings – from calm to tears to anger – for no apparent reason. Your loved one may also become confused or suspicious.

Misplacing Things

Anyone can temporarily misplace something. A person with dementia may put things in unusual places, such as their keys in the refrigerator or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.

Loss of Initiative

Your loved one may become very passive, sitting in front of the television for hours, sleeping more than usual or not wanting to do usual activities.