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Early Signs of Dementia: A Comprehensive Checklist

Kevin Cleary

As we age, we can encounter numerous health issues, but the one that may be the scariest is dementia. Facing the prospect of diminished facilities can be frightening not only for the person with dementia but also for their loved ones. Sometimes it's worse on them! However, with no available cure, detecting early signs of this horrible disorder can help with early intervention and possibly slow the signs and symptoms of dementia  

Among the top concerns as we age are our memory and thinking abilities. Learning something new may take a little longer, or we sometimes forget to pay a bill, but these are typical signs of age-related forgetfulness. However, there are some things you can do to stay healthy and cope with changes in memory and mental skills.  

The National Institute of Health lists these activities to stay mentally sharp:   

  • Learn a new skill   
  • Maintain a daily routine.   
  • Stay involved with activities (especially those that help both mind and body)   
  • Exercise   
  • Eat well   

Spending time with friends and family while volunteering in your community will also go a long way to keep you social and your mind in top shape. However, if forgetfulness worsens or starts interfering with daily activities, you should see your doctor for proper testing.   

What is Dementia?   

Dementia is a progressive condition affecting millions worldwide, causing memory loss, cognitive decline, and impaired daily functioning. Detecting dementia in its early stages can lead to better management and support for individuals and their families.  

Risk factors of Dementia  

The CDC identifies some risk factors for developing dementia:   

  • Age: Most cases affect those 65 years or older.   
  • Family history: Unfortunately, those with parents or siblings with dementia are more apt to develop the disease. 
  • Race/ethnicity: Older African Americans are 2x likely than whites, and Hispanics are 1.5x more likely.  
  • Poor heart health: High blood pressure, cholesterol, and smoking increase dementia risk.   
  • Traumatic brain injury increases the risk of dementia.  

Dementia is diagnosed by tests relating to attention, memory, problem-solving, cognitive abilities and physical exams such as blood tests, CT scans, and MRIs.  

Checklist for early warning signs of Dementia  

Here is a comprehensive checklist of early signs of dementia, helping you recognize potential indicators and encouraging timely intervention. Remember, early detection can significantly impact the quality of life for those affected by dementia.  

1. Memory Loss   

It is often one of the most common early signs of dementia. While occasional memory slips are normal, persistent forgetfulness may indicate a more significant issue. Look out for the following signs:  

  • Difficulty remembering recent events, conversations, or appointments.  
  • Asking for the same information repeatedly. 
  • Misplacing things or finding it difficult to retrace them.  
  • Heavily relying on memory aids or family members to recall information.  

2. Impaired Cognitive Abilities 

Dementia affects various cognitive functions, such as thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving. Watch for the following indications of cognitive decline:  

  • Trouble concentrating or following a conversation or plotline.  
  • Difficulty making decisions or solving familiar problems.  
  • Reduced ability to learn new information or retain previously acquired knowledge.  
  • Challenges with spatial orientation, such as getting lost in familiar surroundings.  

3. Communication and Language Difficulties  

Dementia can impact a person's language skills and ability to express thoughts and ideas. Keep an eye out for these communication-related signs:  

4. Mood and Personality Changes   

Dementia can cause significant shifts in a person's mood, behavior, and personality. While occasional mood swings are normal, persistent alterations may indicate underlying cognitive issues:  

  • Becoming increasingly irritable, agitated, or anxious without apparent cause.  
  • Exhibiting uncharacteristic aggression or anger in situations where it previously wouldn't occur.  
  • Becoming withdrawn or socially isolated, losing interest in previously enjoyed activities.  
  • Changes in personal hygiene, grooming habits, or overall motivation.  

5. Difficulty Performing Daily Tasks  

As dementia progresses, individuals may struggle with routine tasks and everyday activities. Look out for these warning signs:  

  • Challenges with planning and organizing, such as forgetting how to cook a familiar recipe.  
  • Difficulty handling finances or keeping track of bills and expenses.  
  • Trouble driving or navigating familiar routes.  
  • Neglecting personal care, including dressing, bathing, or maintaining cleanliness.  

Recognizing the very early signs of dementia is crucial for timely intervention and ensuring appropriate support and care. In addition, by familiarizing yourself with the checklist provided, you can be proactive in identifying potential indicators of dementia in yourself or your loved ones.   

Consult a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis if you notice any or all these signs. In addition, early detection allows for better management strategies, the implementation of appropriate therapies, and access to community resources that can enhance the quality of life for individuals with dementia. 


Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.

In 2006, ...

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