Dementia is a critical and unfortunate condition that affects countless people around the world. It causes cognitive impairment and issues with communication as well as memory loss. The information below shows you how to recognize dementia and memory loss in its early stages.


What is Dementia?

To recognize the early signs of dementia, you first have to know exactly what dementia means. Unfortunately, dementia is slightly more confusing than it seems initially. This is because it is not a disease. Rather, it is a set of symptoms that occur because of another disease or injury. For example, dementia most commonly occurs as a result of Alzheimer’s but it can also occur due to brain damage, stroke, or another disease like Huntington’s.

It’s also important to note that memory loss in the elderly doesn’t always signal dementia. Those with dementia must be experiencing at least two symptoms of impairment associated with the condition and must be significant enough to impair everyday life.


Early Signs of Dementia

There are many early signs of dementia. As mentioned above, it’s important not to jump to conclusions before taking the adequate steps to identify the condition. Below are a few of the most common early signs of dementia,  visit a doctor for an official diagnosis.

  • Short-Term Memory Changes – Initial changes in the short-term memory of those with dementia can be very subtle. Examples can be forgetting what they had for breakfast, where they left an object, or why they went into a particular room. Most of the time, long-term memory isn’t initially impaired.
  • Difficulty Finding the Right Words Another early sign of dementia is difficulty finding the right words while talking to someone. The patient can generally communicate reasonably well but often has trouble finding the particular words they are looking for.
  • Changes in Mood – Shifts in mood, especially depression or anxiety, are common in those with dementia. While the patient themselves might not notice the change, close friends and family members often do.
  • Apathy – One of the earliest noticeable signs of dementia is apathy. It is common for people to start to lose interest in hobbies and activities they previously engaged in regularly.
  • Difficulty With Normal Tasks – Many of those with dementia begin to have trouble completing otherwise normal tasks. Examples include balancing a checkbook or playing a game with multiple rules. Memory loss coupled with confusion can make managing household tasks more difficult over time.
  • Confusion – One of the most bothersome symptoms of dementia is confusion. This happens when a patient has trouble remembering something or has trouble finding the right word. They often become confused at their inability to remember such things. Confusion may lead to irritability, anxiety, and other strong emotional reactions.


Oftentimes, signs of dementia show up well before a patient is diagnosed. The ones discussed above are among the most common early signs. If you notice a loved one experiencing one or more of these, it is imperative you visit a doctor immediately. There are a number of options that can help seniors struggling with memory loss, including various therapies or memory care.


The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material found on this website is intended to promote and encourage consumer understanding and should not be considered alternative or supplementary medical advice. If you have any concerns regarding your health or physical condition, seek the advice of a licensed qualified healthcare provider. Be sure to discuss any changes or concerns with your doctor before beginning a new healthcare regimen, undergoing any procedures, or changing current healthcare plans. Seniors and Health does not claim medical representation and assumes no responsibility in the accuracy of the information available on this website.

To learn about other common health concerns among senior, check out our Health and Conditions page; we also provide information on senior care options on our Assisted Living page.

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About the Author: John Winfrey Jr. received his Bachelor’s in 2015 from the University of North Texas after spending much of his 20’s traveling across the country. Majoring in Marketing and minoring in Journalism gave him the experience needed to write and research important topics like senior health. Senior health especially hits home as his veteran father was a senior who eventually became deaf and blind. John had to become as familiar as he could, quickly, to provide support for his father.