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Sure Signs You Have Dementia Like Ronald Reagan

These are the warning signs of dementia, according to experts.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

President Ronald Reagan is one of many high-profile people to have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. In a letter written to the American people in 1994, President Reagan said that he and wife Nancy Reagan wanted to be open about his condition in order to shine more light on the disease. "In opening our hearts, we hope this might promote greater awareness of this condition," he wrote. "Perhaps it will encourage a clearer understanding of the individuals and families who are affected by it." Here are five signs of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Short-Term Memory Loss

Senior Hispanic Man Suffering With Dementia Trying To Dress

Short-term memory loss and confusion are some of the most common early symptoms of dementia. "Driving or walking for a long time without realizing you're lost or completely forgetting where you are, and not asking for help in these situations could  be a sign of dementia," says Johns Hopkins geriatrician Sevil Yasar, M.D., Ph.D.


Losing Sense of Humor


If you find yourself being confused by humor that was always funny to you, it could be a sign of dementia. "Early signs of dementia include changes to language, behaviors and responses to social cues," says Hannah Churchill, research communications manager at Alzheimer's Society. "If you find your sense of humor has changed significantly, it might be worth getting some medical advice," says Katie Puckering, information services manager for Alzheimer's Research UK.


Financial Confusion

Surprised senior mature woman counting bills at home.

If you've always been on top of your bills and find yourself regularly forgetting to pay them, it could be a sign of dementia, doctors say. "If you used to balance your bank accounts to the penny and now you've lost track of where your household money is going, bills have not been paid and as a result electricity or phone service has been turned off," says Johns Hopkins geriatrician Sevil Yasar, M.D., Ph.D


Trouble Walking

senior woman with adult daughter at home.

Struggling with steps could be a sign of dementia, according to doctors. "They walked slower with shorter steps, were more variable and asymmetric, and spent longer with both feet on the ground compared to control subjects," says Ríona McArdle, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Brain and Movement Group, Newcastle University. "This shows that people with dementia have significant walking problems, and that we need to look at this in people at risk of developing dementia to see if it can predict the onset of the condition.


Vision Issues

Mature woman takes off her glasses and massages eyes.

Vision issues are a common part of aging, but it's also a symptom of dementia. "There are two reasons for this potential link," says Puckering. "The first is that hearing loss might be linked with cellular changes in the brain. But the second is that social isolation has long been known as a risk of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan