Dementia is a broad term that describes symptoms that include memory loss, confusion, impaired thinking and judgment, and personality changes. It’s caused by physical changes in the brain, usually due to Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease. Because it can take several years for symptoms to appear, many people wait too long to seek treatment—which means that it’s even more important for you and your loved ones to know what to look out for. Here are five common signs of dementia that you shouldn’t ignore:
1. Frequently forgets important details or uses the wrong words
Dementia is a collection of symptoms affecting memory, language, thinking, understanding, and judgment. It’s not just memory loss— an overall decline in mental function that worsens over time.
Someone with dementia may forget recent events, but they might not always forget past events. They might struggle with language and find the right word to describe something. They might have trouble organizing their thoughts and cannot do simple math problems.
As dementia progresses, most people will experience some degree of loss in their ability to perform daily tasks. This could include things like cooking meals or managing finances.
2. They have trouble following or joining a conversation
If you notice that your loved one is having trouble following or joining a conversation, it can be an indication of dementia. They may have difficulty remembering the names of people or places and finding the right word to use. Your loved one may also have trouble keeping up with a conversation’s flow and context, making them feel like they’re missing out on something important.
It is important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, such as depression or anxiety, so it’s critical to get an accurate diagnosis before jumping to conclusions about what might be happening.
3. They can’t seem to follow a plan or work with numbers
One of the signs you should look out for is when your loved one doesn’t seem to follow a plan or work with numbers.
When someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia has trouble keeping track of time or organizing their thoughts, they may also have trouble staying on task. This can lead to behaviors like forgetting what they’re doing halfway through an activity or having trouble finishing tasks. It could also mean they cannot track how much money they have left in their bank account.
4. They’re getting lost in places that once were familiar
As people with Alzheimer’s disease age, they may get lost in places that once were familiar. They might have trouble remembering how to get to a place they have been to many times before. For example, a person with dementia may not remember how to get home even though they’ve lived there for years. For instance, if they live in an assisted living community like Pathway To Living, once their dementia begins to take hold, they may believe that they live elsewhere and will refuse to return.
5. They’re experiencing poor judgment and losing things more often
If someone is experiencing poor judgment and losing things more often, it could be an early sign of dementia. They may misplace bills, keys, medications, or appointments with friends or family. They may also forget their personal items such as clothes or jewelry that they always wear daily.
People with dementia can enjoy a better quality of life with proper treatment and care. But the first step is recognizing when there may be something wrong—and knowing what to do about it. If you or someone you know is showing signs of dementia, get in touch with a healthcare professional as soon as possible for an evaluation.