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5 Ways to Spot You're Getting Dementia, Say Experts

Identifying it early is the best hope for a quality life.

Chances are you've known someone with dementia, a category of neurodegenerative diseases associated with aging that includes Alzheimer's. If you don't, the odds are increasing that you will: Today, more than 5 million Americans have dementia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; by 2060, that number is expected to be 14 million. Although dementia is currently a disease without a cure, spotting it early is key to slowing or arresting its progression. These are five of the most common signs of early dementia. Read on to find out more, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.


Memory Changes

Mature woman sitting in bed at home.

Problems with memory are one of the most common symptoms of dementia. These aren't always easy for the affected person or loved ones to recognize. Someone with dementia may have trouble remembering recent events, names and places and where they left certain objects. A certain level of forgetfulness is a normal feature of aging, but as a general rule, when memory issues begin to affect your day-to-day life, it warrants consultation with a doctor.


Difficulty With Language

senior woman with adult daughter at home.

A person with dementia may begin to have trouble remembering the right words or maintaining or following a conversation. They might use substitutions or talk around words or details they can't recall. This symptom can be subtle, not easily noticed by the person with cognitive decline or those around them, says Thomas C. Hammond, MD, a neurologist with Baptist Health's Marcus Neuroscience Institute in Boca Raton, Florida.


Coordination Problems

Elderly stroke, Asian older woman suffer fall.

Dementia may cause an affected person to have trouble walking or maintaining coordination. That can include having difficulty with balance or judging distance, tripping over things, or dropping items more frequently than usual, says the CDC.

RELATED: 9 Everyday Habits That Might Lead to Dementia


Getting Lost

Mature woman on bench in autumn park.

Difficulty navigating familiar routes can be an early sign of dementia. A person affected might have trouble remembering an oft-used freeway exit or bus connection, or finding their way home from a familiar neighborhood.

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Differences in Mood

Stressed senior woman at home

Mood changes are a symptom of dementia that is commonly overlooked, says Hammond. Sometimes, a person with dementia will become apathetic, losing interest in activities they had formerly enjoyed. Family members may attribute these changes to depression or stress. They may not be due to dementia, but they're worth evaluation by a healthcare provider. 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