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The #1 Dementia Symptom You Haven't Heard Of

There are things you can do to maintain your brain health, at any age.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab
Senior woman looking through the window.

Many of us know about the most common symptom of dementia: memory loss. But not all signals of dementia involve recalling the past as much as living in the present. "The earliest symptoms of neurocognitive disorder, or mild dementia, are often mistaken for normal aging, depression or anxiety," says Thomas C. Hammond, MD, a neurologist with Baptist Health's Marcus Neuroscience Institute in Boca Raton, Florida. These are the most commonly overlooked signs of dementia to watch for,,,ending with the the #1. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Had COVID and Didn't Know It.

5

Personality Shifts

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Subtle personality changes are probably the most commonly missed early symptom in dementia," says Hammond.  

4

Mood Changes

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"The patient with early dementia will become apathetic, losing interest in activities they had formerly enjoyed. Family members often attribute these changes to the individual being depressed, anxious or under stress," says Hammond. 

3

Over-Purchasing

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Some people with dementia may stock up on household staples they already own, says Jared Heathman, MD, a family psychiatrist in Houston. "When out shopping, recent purchases of frequently used items are often forgotten. This can lead to purchasing items due to the belief that they are running low."

2

Abandoning Complex Tasks

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"As the 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 Hammond.

1

Isolation

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We've all been more socially isolated that we'd like over the past year, but lack of social stimulation may have worsened dementia symptoms in those prone to the condition. The Alzheimer's Association recently said that deaths from Alzheimer's and other dementia-related diseases increased by 16% in 2020. Isolation itself may exacerbate dementia, while people experiencing dementia may isolate themselves because of those symptoms.

"It's been very isolating and difficult for them. That can exacerbate other issues that were already going on," Jason DiPietro, owner of Right at Home, a Colorado-based home care company, told Denver 7 News this month. His clients have been experiencing anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and bipolar disorder. "They're afraid, and they're lonely, and it's important that we keep an eye open," he said.