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These 6 Signs are Indicators of Dementia, Say Experts

It's important to remain alert to the potential signs.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Dementia is a progressive brain disorder whose most common form in Alzheimer's disease. Dementia currently affects more than six million people nationwide, and those numbers are expected to increase as the population grows older. (Age is the #1 risk factor for dementia.) Although the prospect may be scary, it's important to remain alert to the potential signs of dementia in yourselves or loved ones, so treatment and care plans can begin. These are six key signs that are indicators of dementia, according to experts. 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.


Recent Memory Loss

Memory Disorder

Memory loss is probably the most common indicator of dementia. Someone with dementia may have trouble remembering recent events or recently learned information like names and places, to the point that it makes functioning normally difficult. "Occasionally forgetting names or what to buy at the store and then remembering them later is normal," says the Alzheimer's Foundation of America. "A person living with dementia will have memory loss that is frequent and will impact their ability to function in their daily life." 

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Confusion About Time and Place

Senior woman conducting an interview

A person with dementia may be disoriented to their surroundings more easily. They may become lost in places that were previously well-known, like in their own neighborhood or on a frequently driven route, forgetting how they got there and how to return home. "It is normal to forget where you are going once in a while," says the AFA. "Individuals living with dementia may be disoriented to time, place and immediate environment (e.g. not knowing where they are)."

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Forgetting Where Items Are

Man looking for a missing item under sofa.

Everyone misplaces items like their keys or phone occasionally, but having trouble retracing steps to find missing items is a warning sign for dementia. Additionally, a person living with dementia might repeatedly put their items in places that they do not belong, like placing car keys in the freezer, says the AFA.

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Trouble Communicating

senior woman with adult daughter at home.

A common early sign of dementia is difficulty finding words, 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, or have trouble initiating or following conversations. 

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Poor Judgment

Woman comforting anxious husband

"We can make poor decisions once in a while. A person with dementia might make decisions that negatively impact their wellbeing more frequently and start paying less attention to their daily needs," says the AFA.


Difficulty With Complex or Familiar Tasks

Senior Hispanic Man Suffering With Dementia Trying To Dress

A person with dementia may have trouble with complicated mental tasks like balancing a checkbook, following directions, or making calculations. Familiar routines, like paying bills or preparing frequently used recipes, may become hard, the CDC says. Reading and writing might also become increasingly difficult for the affected person. 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