Early symptoms of Dementia

Symptoms of dementia

There is no specific set of early symptoms of dementia; it depends on the type and cause. Much like cancer can affect different parts of the body, so dementia can affect different parts of the brain. In addition, several forms of dementia are characterized by slow symptoms that progress gradually and become worse over a period of time that may be as long as 10 years. This may contribute to people ignoring the signs of dementia, and attributing them to the aging process. However, and though dementia is more prevalent in the elderly, it is not a natural part of aging. In fact, young people are also vulnerable to some forms of dementia, such as early onset Alzheimer’s diseases

The most commonly seen early dementia symptoms include:
  • Memory loss.     
  • Difficulty communicating.     
  • Difficulty performing complex and/or familiar tasks.     
  • Difficulty planning and organizing.     
  • Difficulty with coordination and motor functions.     
  • Orientation problems, for example getting lost.     
  • Personality changes.  
  • Mood changes.  
  • Inability to reason.     
  • Inappropriate conduct.  
  • Depression.   
  • Paranoia.     
  • Agitation.    
  • Apathy. 
  • Confusion.
  • Repetitiveness.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Inability to find the right words.
  • Neglecting personal care.  
  • Misplacing things.
Even though many types of dementia don’t have a cure, detecting the symptoms on time is essential in order to allow the patient to make the most of the available treatments. On the other hand, it might be easy to become overzealous and immediately equate normal age-related isolated events with dementia symptoms. For instance, anyone can momentarily forget a name or a phone number, or find themselves at a loss for words. But people who have dementia forget things more frequently and don’t remember them later, or forget a word use an inappropriate term instead. Moreover, several other conditions can mimic the early symptoms of dementia, such as stroke, depression, alcoholism, infections, hormone disorders, and brain tumors. 
The fact is though, that two out of five potential core mental functions must be considerably impaired before a dementia diagnosis can be made. Those functions are memory, communication and language, ability to focus and pay attention, reasoning and judgment, and visual perception. Doctors have several tests that can help them to determine very accurately whether someone has dementia. Those tests include:
  • Cognitive and neuropsychological tests.
  • Brain scans (CT or MRI scans).
  • Lab tests (thyroid hormone test, vitamin B12 blood test, complete blood count, glucose test, etc.)
  • Psychiatric evaluations. 
  • Mood assessment.
Conversely, it may turn out to be more difficult to pinpoint exactly the cause and type of dementia, since many of the symptoms are common to different forms of dementia. In very general terms, dementia stems from brain nerve cells damage in one or more areas of the brain, and there are certain risk factors that can put someone at a greater risk. Dementias can be classified as reversible and irreversible; similarly, the risk factors can be categorized as preventable and unavoidable. 

Dementia causes


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Lewy body dementia
  • Vascular dementia
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Leukoencephalopathies 
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • Brain injury trauma
  • Some cases of MS or ALS
  • Multiple system atrophy

May be reversed

  • Hypothyroidism 
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Heavy metal poisoning
  • Side effects of medication
  • Some brain tumors
  • Chronic alcoholism
  • HIV-associated dementia
  • Anoxia 
  • Normal-pressure hydrocephalus
  • Some cases of encephalitis
  • Infections and immune disorders
  • Metabolic problems and endocrine abnormalities
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Subdural hematomas
  • Heart and lung problems
If you were to be diagnosed with dementia, you would no doubt wish that you had put your mental faculties to better use while you still had a chance to do so. And as it turns out, doing just that may help reduce your chances of developing dementia. Among the steps that can be taken are:
  • Keeping an active mind.
  • Being active physically and socially.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Lowering blood pressure.
  • Pursuing formal education.
  • Following a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids. 
Even after a dementia diagnose, there’s still much that one can do to cope with the situation, including:
  • Learning about the disease.
  • Starting a journal.
  • Joining a support group.
  • Finding new avenues of expression.
  • Spending quality time with loved ones.
  • Choosing a trustworthy person to help with the decision-making process. 
A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and even more so when mental deterioration can lead to physical decline as well. Individual with dementia are likely to stop feeding themselves, whether they think they have already done so or simply forger to do it, leading to malnutrition. When they do eat they may experience loss of control over chewing and swallowing muscles, which can cause them to choke or aspirate food into the lungs, which can in turn block breathing and lead to pneumonia. Hygiene can also be affected, since the person can’t bathe, dress, brush teeth, or use the toilet by themselves anymore. Due to all of this the affected person is invariably going to need a caregiver.
The person upon whom the role of caregiver falls can and should resort to activities similar to the ones mentioned above, as well as others like encouraging exercise and participation in thinking games such as crossword puzzles, and establishing a nighttime ritual. Since the caregiver is going to go through an ordeal that almost matches that of the patient, they should also join support groups, ask help of friends and family, and take good care of themselves, physically and emotionally.