Skip to content

Dementia Signs Usually Appear in This Order

How to spot signs of dementia according to doctors.

Dementia is a syndrome that affects a person's cognitive function, such as thought process, comprehension, learning capability and judgment. Nearly 55 million people worldwide live with dementia, according to the World Health Organization and "there are nearly 10 million new cases every year." Dementia specialist Dr. Heather Palmer and former Cognitive Well-Being Advisor at Amica Senior Lifestyles tells Eat This, Not That! Health. "It is hard for us to imagine how the world might seem and change for people living with dementia, however, it's important to understand that certain views and behaviors might impact or be indicative of someone living with dementia. From noticing changes in behavior when walking into rooms to neglecting plants, dementia can take many forms on someone's way of life. But, through the use of various tools and tools and approaches, those living with dementia are still able to function well (or even better than they did before)." ETNT Health spoke with doctors who explained what signs of dementia are to watch out for and the order they can appear in. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs COVID is Hurting You—Even After a Negative Test.


Early Dementia Signs Happen in this Order

older man with dementia talking to doctor
Shutterstock / Robert Kneschke

Dr. James Dan, MD, geriatric clinical advisor and member of the Senior Helpers Board of Directors explains, "The key early symptom to detecting Alzheimer's disease is the diminishing of one's learning capacity. With normal aging, our memory and other mental capacities slowly decline, recent memory more than past memory. Things such as difficulty naming people, lack of attention span and becoming easily confused are common. So how do we recognize what is normal and what presages the sad course of Alzheimer's disease? Early Alzheimer's disease patients lose the capacity to learn. They struggle to retain even after being specifically retaught. Evaluation by a trained health professional will help distinguish between simply growing old and developing Alzheimer's disease. There are many specialized dementia evaluation centers in the USA."

RELATED: I'm a Doctor and Here's the #1 Sign You Have Abdominal Fat


Other Signs of Dementia

sad senior 70s grandmother look in distance thinking.

Dr. Kristina Hendija explains other signs of dementia to watch out for. 

  • "Anxiety and apathy were both commonly seen in patients with mild dementia. It was found that these symptoms were generally more persistent over time compared to other depressive symptoms.
  • Delusions. Though commonly seen in dementia, studies conflict on the persistence of psychotic symptoms such as delusions. In general, however, it was found that hallucinations were much less persistent than delusions.
  • Repetitive Storytelling. People with dementia often recount incidents that they remember repeatedly and more often than not, they mix up names and places whenever the story is told."

RELATED: "Early Signs" of an Omicron Infection, Say Experts


Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease


Dr. Dan says, "Dementia is the general term for a group of diseases that have some differences in their clinical course, but all have diminishing mental capacity as a feature. Alzheimer's Disease is just one of the several causes. It is distinguished by the finding of tangles of abnormal proteins with brain imaging. Another common cause of dementia is vascular dementia; this is essentially the byproduct of many little strokes over time."

RELATED: The #1 Cause of Fat Deep in Your Belly


How a Living Room Might Look to Someone with Dementia

Grey haired senior male seats on couch in living room.

Dr. Palmer reveals how the world can appear to those living with dementia. She explains how normal things in a living room can look to dementia patients. 

  • Decorations: "Decorations can appear distorted and frightening to someone with dementia – ie. Dotted wallpaper can appear as large ants crawling up the wall."
  • Dark Holes: Shadows cast on the ground may be perceived as big holes and lead to a fear of falling into this bottomless pit, leading to those with dementia avoiding crossing the shadow.
  • Glare From Light Sources: Even soft glow lamps can appear glared and bright, as those with dementia often experience light sensitivity.
  • View In The Window: Depth perception and the ability to judge distance pose additional dangers." 

RELATED: Never Do This After Age 60, Experts Warn


Tips for Caregivers of Dementia Patients

Doctor and senior woman wearing facemasks

Dr. Palmer gives the following advice for people caring for someone with dementia, 

  1. "Building a base of knowledge to help gain a perspective on some of the cognitive challenges that seniors with dementia experience
  2. Learn to understand the symptoms of dementia, such as forgetfulness, agitation, or hallucinations
  3. Create strategies and plans that create joy and minimize triggers that may distress someone with dementia, such activities when a senior is typically most alert and happy or allowing seniors to enjoy a harmless delusion
  4. Track the activities that help comfort a senior with dementia, such as soothing music or old photos, and those that cause anxiety or resistance i.e. noisy environments or hunger
  5. Connect with other caregivers, friends, and other family, to help spread out the work and reduce caregiver fatigue and stress. This can be as simple as asking a friend to pick up groceries
  6. Talking to others, talking about your challenges and feelings such as guilt, frustration and grief can be helpful
  7. Ask for support when you need a break to help avoid burnout and recharge." And to live your healthiest life, don't miss this life-saving advice I'm a Doctor and Here's the #1 Sign You Have Cancer.
Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather