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If You Forget These 5 Things, You May Have Dementia

It's important to stay alert to potential symptoms.

You've likely heard that memory loss can be an early symptom of dementia. But according to experts, forgetting certain things is especially indicative of the disease. If you can't remember these five things, it could be a sign of dementia. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.


What Is Dementia?

older man with dementia talking to doctor
Shutterstock / Robert Kneschke

Dementia is an umbrella term for several disorders of the brain that involve changes to memory, thinking, personality, and judgment. Ultimately, these changes interfere with a person's ability to function and live an independent life. 

Most cases of dementia are diagnosed in people older than 65, and the biggest risk factor for dementia is simply getting older. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting about 6.2 million Americans. 

Seeking treatment early may slow the progression of dementia. That's why it's important to stay alert to potential symptoms.


The Right Words

Concerned aged mother and adult daughter sit on couch having serious conversation

A common early sign of dementia is the impaired ability to communicate, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The affected person might have trouble finding the right words or finishing sentences; they might talk around the forgotten words or use substitutions. This symptom can be subtle, not easily noticed by the person with cognitive decline or the people around them. Some affected people will begin to self-isolate, spending less time with others in order to hide the issue.

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A Familiar Recipe

Senior woman in the kitchen cooking, mixing food in a pot.

Familiar tasks, like cooking frequently used recipes, may become difficult for a person with dementia, the CDC says. Some forgetfulness is common with aging. But if memory issues begin to affect your day-to-day life, consult your doctor.

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How to Balance the Checkbook

Woiman sitting at the table worrying about the money.

A person with dementia may begin having trouble with reading, writing or complex mental tasks like balancing a checkbook, following directions, or making calculations. Conversely, coping with the unfamiliar can be hard for a person with dementia, who may have trouble handling unexpected events or changes in routine.

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Where You Left the Keys

Bunch of keys lies on a wooden table.

People with dementia may involve recent or important events or names and places. They might also forget where they left certain objects—like car keys—and be unable to retrace their steps to find them. 

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How to Get Home

Female neighbor giving senior woman a lift In car.

Difficulty navigating familiar routes can be an early sign of dementia. An affected person may become lost in places that were well-known, like on a frequently driven route. They may forget how they got there and how to return home. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael