Dementia is a set of symptoms that are associated with cognitive decline. While the most commonly known signs include forgetfulness and memory loss, there are other early signs to watch for. Since dementia is linked to particular disorders such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, you cannot treat dementia unless the disease itself is treated, and at this time, there is no cure for illnesses like the above. However, identifying early signs of dementia gives family members the chance to step in and slow the progression of symptoms.

Subtle, Early Warning Signs of Dementia

Here are some early warning signs of dementia, and they will probably surprise you. If you believe that your loved one may be showing some of these signs, please see a doctor for a more thorough analysis.

  • Apathy

  • Confusion

  • Slips and falls

  • Problems with walking and balance

  • Inability to detect sarcasm

  • Inability to separate fact from fiction

  • Difficulty finding the right words

  • Staring into space

  • Peculiar eating habits

  • Saying inappropriate things

  • Exhibiting embarrassing behavior

  • Compulsive behavior

Memory Loss and Dementia

It’s also important to note that memory loss is not necessarily a sign of dementia. We’re often quick to jump to conclusions without really understanding what a particular illness entails. When diagnosing dementia symptoms, doctors will look for at least two things that are strong enough to interfere with daily living, and memory loss on its own is not enough. Consider some of the other areas where your loved one may be struggling, such as communicating, focusing or reasoning.

Furthermore, short-term memory loss is a symptom of dementia; long-term memory loss is not. This is why family members will notice that their loved one can play a card game, talk about their past and sing the words to an old song, but they can’t remember what they had for breakfast.

Mood and personality changes are also common in dementia patients, so don’t be surprised if you see your loved one changing. Not only are there alterations in the brain going on, but also your loved one may be growing frustrated because they can’t remember information or hold a conversation. Talk to your loved one’s doctor about how you can continue to play a positive, active role in their life if dementia is diagnosed.