Startling Signs You’re Going to Get Dementia

Early signs of dementia are often mistaken for normal aging. While minor forgetfulness is part of growing old, stark differences exist between dementia and aging. Look for the following things to assess if you’re developing this serious condition. One major shift in your mood could change everything (page 10).

1. Subtle forgetfulness

Thinking young woman looking up at many question marks
Do you remember what you had for lunch yesterday? | iStock.com/SIphotography

If you recently attended an event and have trouble recalling specific details, it could be a sign of dementia, Healthline says. You might attend a concert and forget the songs played. Or, you may make an omelet for breakfast but forget what you put in it. However, an event from years ago could still feel fresh in your mind.

Next: Do you worry a lot? 

2. Worrying about your memory

Young miserable depressed man
Don’t obsess over potential memory problems. | iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Studies presented at an Alzheimer’s conference noted that those worried about memory loss may already be facing it. These people were more likely to have Alzheimer’s plaques present in the brain. With dementia, it’s common for the individual to notice something is off before those around them notice.

Next: The daily grind gets tough.

3. Difficulty completing daily tasks

Man Arranging Dishes In Dishwasher
Man arranging dishes | iStock.com/AndreyPopov

If a task requires a lot of steps, someone with early signs of dementia may forget these actions. Playing a board game with family members could make you realize you can’t retain all of the rules. You may have a daily chore routine but suddenly find you can’t remember it.

Next: Communication issues arise.

4. Struggling to communicate thoughts

Aged patient receives the visit of a female black doctor
Communication may become more difficult. | iStock.com/diego_cervo

It’s hard when you can’t find the words to describe how you feel. If this happens frequently, it’s a sign of dementia. Losing your train of thought while telling a story is common. But ALZ.org reports that it’s worth mentioning to your doctor if it continues. If you’re speaking and suddenly can’t remember the name of something simple (such as forgetting what a “necklace” is called), it’s another sign something is wrong.

Next: Problems become more complex.

5. Difficulty problem-solving

Woman using planner on laptop
Not being able to put together a schedule can be an early sign of dementia. | iStock.com/Rawpixel

Creating a daily schedule can be difficult for someone with early-stage dementia. If Susan pushes your lunch plans back, you may struggle to plan your day around the new time. Creating a budget may seem impossible, as numbers can become increasingly difficult to work with.

Next: You’re saying the same thing twice. 

6. Repetitiveness

mature couple having a glass of wine at campsite
Consistently telling the same story isn’t a good sign. | iStock.com/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

In addition to not being able to find the right words, a sign of dementia is saying the same thing twice. Repeating parts of a story more than once or completely telling the story over again within a few minutes are both signs your short term memory may be failing.

Next: Story lines become blurred.

7. Struggling to follow a story

Couple talking outdoors in a park with a green background
Can you follow along when someone is telling a story? | AntonioGuillem/Getty Images

If someone tells you about a crazy thing that happened at the grocery store, you may find it hard to follow what they say, remember all of the details, and put the story together by the time they’re done. The finished story won’t make sense, leaving you feeling confused and defeated.

Next: Items are disappearing. 

8. Misplacing items

hand opening a door with keys
Your keys may start to disappear out of thin air. | danny4stockphoto/iStock/Getty Images

Sunglasses, car keys, wallets — everyone misplaces things now and then. However, those with dementia never realize where it is. If you search high and low for your car keys, and they’re right on the table where they usually are, it’s worth consulting a doctor.

Next: You want the same routine. 

9. Resistance to change

Senior Asian Couple Sitting In Park
Sticking to a routine will help ensure you don’t forget things. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

As dementia develops, you may worry about forgetting names or why you went to the store. This can cause you to develop a routine you don’t stray from because you don’t want to look silly. You may become resistant to any change in this routine for fear others will notice your new struggles.

Next: A major shift others may notice first.

10. Personality or mood shift

Sad man looking out of window
Your friends may notice a shift in your mood before you do. | iStock.com

A depressed attitude is common in the beginning stages of dementia. This change in mood isn’t always obvious to you. You may blame it on feeling tired or down, but others usually notice it first. Healthline reported that judgment can affect mood, causing people to switch between emotions more strongly.

Next: Are you consulting your calendar more often?

11. Confusion

Senior Man With Adult Daughter
Senior man with adult daughter | Highwaystarz-Photography/iStock/Getty Images

Everyone’s had a moment where they forget what day it is. But this occurs more often with dementia. Losing track of time is a red flag. This is different from getting lost in a book or working on a project longer than planned. People with dementia forget the date and can’t remember on their own. With normal aging, people may forget, but they’ll remember a minute later.

Next: Do your hobbies seem meaningless?

12. Apathy

Man struggling to play tennis
You may start to lose interest in your favorite activities. | iStock.com

A lack of interest often develops in dementia patients because memory loss creates a change in habits. Someone who used to love playing tennis with friends may no longer be emotionally engaged in the sport. People with early-stage dementia typically become more apathetic of daily activities.

Next: Loneliness kicks in. 

13. Social withdrawal

Sad woman on the bed with husband in background
Withdrawing from friends and loved ones is an early sign of dementia. | iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

Difficulty communicating can result in social withdrawal. If you find you’re no longer as interested in going out with friends because you’re worried about your subtle forgetfulness, dementia could be the cause.

Next: Have you lost a lot of money lately?

14. Poor judgment

Hundred dollar bills money
Your spending habits may get out of hand. | SARINYAPINNGAM/iStock/Getty Images

Your judgment dwindles with dementia. You might give away large amounts of money to family, friends, or charities without realizing the impact on your bank account. If you open a bottle of wine, you may forget how many drinks you had. It can lead to dangerous habits you don’t even know you’ve created.

Next: You’re a stranger in your own neighborhood.

15. Losing your sense of direction

hands on steering wheel
Your own neighborhood may become a mystery. | iStock.com/anyaberkut

Forgetfulness can happen at any time, and driving is no exception. With dementia, you tend to forget your destination or how to get there. You may feel lost in a place that was familiar or struggle to recognize landmarks.

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