Skip to content

Dementia Signs to Watch For Now, Warn Experts

Early detection of dementia is crucial.

Dementia—the progressive brain disorder that can affect a person's cognition, judgment, and ability to live independently—has one primary risk factor: Getting older. Early detection of dementia is crucial, so treatment can be pursued and progression of the disease can be slowed if possible. These are the potential dementia signs everyone should know, experts say. 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.


Difficulty Communicating

Concerned aged mother and adult daughter sit on couch having serious conversation

A common early sign of dementia is the impaired ability to communicate, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The affected person might have trouble finding the right words or finishing sentences. They might use substitutes or talk around words they're unable to remember.


Forgetting These Things

Senior lady taking notes, sitting in front of computer, touching her head

Someone with dementia is likely to experience memory loss as an early symptom. This may involve recent events, recently learned information like names and places, or where they left certain objects. Everyone misplaces their keys or phone at times, but a person with dementia may have trouble retracing their steps to find those missing items.

RELATED: Doctors Say "Do Not" Do This After Your COVID Booster


Trouble With Complex or Familiar Tasks 

Woiman sitting at the table worrying about the money.

A person with dementia may begin having trouble with reading, writing, or complicated mental tasks like balancing a checkbook, following directions, or making calculations. Familiar tasks, like paying bills or cooking frequently used recipes, may become difficult, the CDC says.  "As memory problems pick up, the individual with early dementia will leave tasks incomplete, avoid complex games and projects and give up the financial management (like the checkbook) to a spouse or partner," says Thomas C. Hammond, MD, a neurologist with Baptist Health's Marcus Neuroscience Institute in Boca Raton, Florida. 

RELATED: The Best Supplements for Living Longer, Say Experts


Getting Lost

Female neighbor giving senior woman a lift In car.

A person with dementia may become lost in places that were previously well-known, like in their own neighborhood or on a frequently driven route. They may forget how they got there and how to return home. Poor orientation to time, place, person or situation are symptoms to look out for, says Scott Kaiser, MD, director of geriatric cognitive health at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California. 

RELATED: This Cuts Your COVID Risk in Half, New Study Shows


Coordination or Visual-Spatial Problems

Woman falling in bathroom because slippery surfaces

Dementia may cause an affected person to have trouble walking or maintaining coordination or motor skills, says the CDC. They may have difficulty staying balanced or judging distance, tripping over things at home, or dropping or spilling items more often.

RELATED: This Major Chain Just Announced it Was Closing 900 Stores


Attention Deficits

Comforting Senior Husband Suffering With Dementia

A person with dementia may have trouble focusing on tasks or find it difficult to follow directions or conversations. It is rare for older adults to receive a new diagnosis of attention-deficit disorder, says Gerdie Jean-Smith, MD, a board-certified geriatrician based in Florida. New problems with attention are more suspicious for dementia.

RELATED: Secrets to "Reverse Aging," Say Experts


Changes in Mood or Personality

Mature woman sitting on the sofa.

Personality or mood changes are frequently overlooked early signs of dementia. A person with early cognitive decline may spend less time with others and begin to self-isolate. They might become apathetic, losing interest in activities they had formerly enjoyed. Family members might misinterpret these changes as depression, anxiety, or stress. 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. Read more about Michael