What Are Early Signs of Dementia?

Senior Man Holding Younger Woman's Hands

“Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning – thinking, remembering, and reasoning – to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities (National Institute on Aging).”

Dementia is not one condition; the term dementia describes a number of conditions that affect a person’s cognitive functioning. Types of dementia under this umbrella include:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Vascular Dementia
  • Frontotemporal Dementia
  • Lewy Body Dementia
  • Mixed Dementia

One of the most well-known symptoms of dementia is memory loss, but many people are unaware of the other early signs of dementia. While dementia affects every person differently, there are more common symptoms of the progressive condition.

Because early detection and diagnosis are essential to understanding and managing dementia, our team at Vivage is sharing some of these signs to help you and your family navigate dementia and care options.

Subtle Changes in Short-Term Memory

While memory loss is the most common and well-known symptom, it can also be one of the early signs of dementia. In the early stages of dementia, memory loss usually begins very subtly and only affects a person’s short-term memories, leaving their long-term memories fully intact. For example, an individual living with early-stage dementia could remember details about their younger years but not remember what they were doing just a few hours ago. 

Other ways that individuals in the early stages of dementia could experience short-term memory problems include misplacing common items, like their keys or forgetting why they walked into a room. Of course, we all have likely done both of these before; however, it becomes one of the early signs of dementia when it happens more and more frequently and affects or disrupts our everyday lives.

Difficulty with Language

While a person may struggle to find the right word now and then, they usually remember what they were trying to say eventually. However, a person with early-stage dementia may forget simple words or try to substitute a word that does not fit into the context of what they are attempting to say. 

The Alzheimer’s Association states, “people living with Alzheimer’s [or another type of dementia] may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves.”

Trouble Performing Familiar Tasks

Another potential sign of dementia is difficulty completing a daily or routine task. For example, “sometimes they may have trouble driving to a familiar location, organizing a grocery list or remembering the rules of a favorite game (alz.org).”

Again, this could start subtly, but it becomes concerning when it happens more and more frequently and affects or interferes with a person’s daily life.

Other Early Signs of Dementia

Early detection and diagnosis are crucial for managing the progression of dementia. Talk with a healthcare provider if you notice any of these signs in yourself or someone you love.

Additional early signs of dementia could include:

  • Confusion with time or place
  • Decreased or poor judgement
  • Changes in mood and personality
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

Supportive Memory Care Options

At Vivage, our mission is to provide the Right Care in the Right Place at the Right Time. In doing so, we are nationally recognized for our commitment to person-centered dementia and memory care services throughout Colorado, Missouri, and Nevada. Our focus on those living with cognitive challenges due to Alzheimer’s disease or other progressive dementias is to ensure the highest level of dignity, compassion, and well-being.

Our individualized memory care services are designed using each resident’s life history as a foundation to provide therapeutic programming throughout the day. These activities may include:

  • Mental Workout – Mental exercises involving discussions, brain-stimulating games, and reminiscing.

  • Physical Activity – A variety of exercise opportunities, including group exercises, walking programs, and dancing.

  • Creative Expression – Personalized activities to engage the senses and express thoughts, opinions, emotions, and beliefs.

  • Life Skills – Individual or group activities that provide a sense of purpose, belonging, connection, and meaning.

Visit our website or contact a member of the Vivage team to learn more about what we have to offer throughout our memory care communities.

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