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Signs You May Be Developing Dementia, According to Experts

It's important to be alert to the early signs.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The possibility that you or a loved one may be suffering from dementia isn't an easy one to think about. Although dementia is a progressive disease that currently has no cure, it's important to be alert to the early signs, so treatment can be sought and care plans can be made. These are some of the most common signs you might be developing 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.

1

What Is Dementia?

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"Dementia is a common term that describes a group of symptoms that affect memory, decision making and reasoning," says Jennifer Prescott, RN, MSN, CDP, a registered nurse and certified dementia practitioner. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. It's estimated that 6.5 million Americans age 65 and older are currently living with Alzheimer's. Here are some of the most common signs of dementia, according to Prescott and other experts.

2

Progressive Memory Loss

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"Memory trouble related to dementia in the early stage tends to involve short-term memory," says Chrissy Moser, a certified dementia care specialist in Naples, Florida. "An individual might be able to recall events that happened years ago but have difficulty remembering what they did that morning or even a few moments earlier. Other memory changes include forgetting where an item was left, struggling to remember what they are doing in the moment, or forgetting daily tasks and appointments."

3

Poor Judgment

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"Poor judgment associated with dementia is not just one poor decision, but a pattern of these actions," says Moser. "Some examples include making mistakes related to finances, personal grooming, hygiene, social situations and driving."

4

Confusion or Getting Lost

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Poor orientation to time, place, person or situation are symptoms to look out for. A person with dementia may become lost in places that were previously well-known, like in their own neighborhood or on a frequently driven route. They may forget how they got there and how to return home. 

5

Mood Changes

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"A noticeable sudden change in mood could be an early sign of dementia," says Moser. "If your loved one is typically very engaged and active but suddenly becomes too depressed or withdrawn to participate in regular activities, it may be time to seek help. This holds especially true for individuals with no history of depression."

6

Changes In Ability To Speak Or Express Clear Thoughts

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"Struggling to communicate thoughts or feelings is another early sign of dementia," says Moser. "A person living with dementia may have difficulty expressing their thoughts and feelings as well as carrying on a conversation with others. Forgetting names of people, places and things in a conversation also happens frequently."

7

Misplacing Items

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Everyone misplaces their keys or phone at times. But a person with dementia may regularly have trouble retracing their steps to find missing items.

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8

Repeating Things

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"Repeating daily tasks, such as watering the plants or shaving, is common for those living with dementia," says Moser. "Early signs of dementia also include repetition in conversation, such as asking or answering questions multiple times."

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9

Difficulty Paying Bills And Managing Finances

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A person with dementia may begin having trouble with reading, writing, or complicated mental tasks like balancing a checkbook, following directions, or making calculations. Familiar tasks, like paying bills or cooking frequently used recipes, may become difficult, the CDC says. 

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10

When to See a Doctor

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"It is important to see a medical professional if you or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms," says Prescott. "There are other medical conditions that may mimic dementia including infections, auto-immune disorders, medication side effects, brain tumors and nutritional deficiencies to name a few."

"Although there is currently no cure for Alzheimer's Disease, early diagnosis and treatment are important as there are medications that may improve quality of life and slow symptom progression in some cases," she adds. "Once diagnosed, families may work together with healthcare providers to develop a care plan and map of how they want to live the rest of their life safely and with their wishes in mind."

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 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