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If You Answer "Yes" To This, You May Have Dementia

It's important to be alert to the early signs.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

Dementia is a progressive brain disorder with one major risk factor: Getting older. Nearly 6 million Americans are living with the most common type of dementia, Alzheimer's disease. And according to the World Health Organization, cases of dementia are expected to triple by the year 2050, simply because so many of us are aging. Although dementia is a progressive disease that currently has no cure, it's important to be alert to the early signs of the condition so its progression can be slowed if possible. If you answer "yes" to at least one of these six questions, you might have dementia. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Are You Having Trouble Finding the Right Words?

Concerned aged mother and adult daughter sit on couch having serious conversation
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In conversation, if you're having trouble finding the right words or finishing sentences—to the point that you use substitute words or talk around terms you can't remember—it could be a sign of dementia, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Difficulty communicating is a common early indicator of the disorder.

2

Are You Having Trouble With Familiar Tasks?

Senior woman in the kitchen cooking, mixing food in a pot.
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You've cooked that favorite recipe a hundred times, but now you're forgetting ingredients or steps. Balancing your checkbook used to be a snap—you could practically do it in your sleep—but now they're giving you serious trouble. A person with dementia may have trouble with reading, writing, or complicated mental tasks like following directions or making calculations, the CDC says.

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3

Are You Finding It More Difficult to Pay Attention?

Woman comforting anxious husband
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A person with dementia may have trouble focusing on tasks, following directions, or staying engaged in conversations. Experts say it's rare for older adults to develop attention deficit disorder, and new problems with attention levels can be more suspicious for dementia.

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4

Are You Having Trouble Retracing Your Steps?

Moody aged man feeling unhappy.
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Memory loss is perhaps the most commonly known early symptom of dementia. Everyone gets forgetful at times—for example, misplacing their car keys or phone. The difference is that a person with dementia can have difficulty retracing their steps to find missing items. Other memory issues that can be a red flag: Forgetting recent events or important dates, or recently learned information like names and places.

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5

Are You Missing Credit Card Payments?

Woiman sitting at the table worrying about the money.
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As dementia steals memory, routines like bill-paying might fall by the wayside. A study published last summer in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people with dementia began missing credit card payments as long as six years before they were diagnosed. They were also more likely to have lower credit scores two-and-a-half years before their dementia was formally recognized.

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6

Are You Having Difficulty Driving?

Female neighbor giving senior woman a lift In car.
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You might be find yourself getting lost more frequently, becoming confused on familiar routes, like missing a usual highway exit. Scarier still, you might find yourself having more frequent close calls where you have to hit the brakes hard to avoid a collision. A study published last summer found that driving behavior could mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia with 66 percent accuracy. One risk factor: the number of hard braking events with fast deceleration rates. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more