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If You Notice This When Talking, You May Have Dementia

Noticing these may be reason to see a doctor.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The progressive brain disorder known as dementia affects several important areas of the brain, which can cause problems with a number of crucial functions. One of them is speech. If you or your loved ones notice these five things about how you're speaking, it might be an indicator of dementia. Here's what they are, and what to do about them. 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.


Trouble Finding the Right Words

Woman comforting anxious husband

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


Trouble Expressing This

older man with dementia talking to doctor
Shutterstock / Robert Kneschke

"Struggling to communicate thoughts or feelings is an early sign of dementia," says Chrissy Moser, a certified dementia care specialist in Naples, Florida. "A person living with dementia may have difficulty expressing their thoughts and feelings." Says the Alzheimer's Society: "People with dementia often experience changes in their emotional responses. They may have less control over their feelings and how they express them. For example, someone may be irritable, or prone to rapid mood changes or overreacting to things. They may also appear unusually uninterested in things or distant."


Difficulty With Conversation

senior woman with adult daughter at home.

"A person living with dementia may have difficulty carrying on a conversation with others," says Moser. "Forgetting names of people, places and things in a conversation also happens frequently." This can lead to an inability to follow conversations, which may result in a person with dementia becoming more socially withdrawn. 


Being Repetitive

Senior Hispanic Man Suffering With Dementia Trying To Dress

"Individuals affected by dementia are very likely to show repetitive behavior," says Dr. Mark Davis, a physician with Pacific Analytics. "This includes asking or answering the same question several times, repeating their instructions and talking about the same incident multiple times."


Making Things Up

An old man touches his head. Headache. Alzheimer's disease

"This is where false memories are created, but without the intention to deceive," says Dr. Holly Schiff, a licensed clinical psychologist in Greenwich, Connecticut. "The individual is not able to recognize that what they are saying is fabricated, and they sincerely believe what they are saying is accurate and genuine. Confabulation is typically a coping response to the cognitive changes one is experiencing."


When to See a Doctor

woman having serious chat with her doctor

"Memory problems and forgetfulness don't automatically mean you have dementia," says Schiff. "These are normal parts of aging and can be caused by other factors, but you shouldn't ignore the symptoms. If you have any of the symptoms associated with dementia, and they are not improving, it's important to see your doctor so they can rule out other causes for your symptoms and determine whether it is dementia or another cognitive problem. With early diagnosis and treatment, you can slow the progression of dementia and maintain your mental function."

And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of 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