Support & Advice

How to spot the early signs of dementia

Spotting the early signs of dementia in elderly people can be hard. They're often mild and subtle to start off with, and can often be mistaken for being a natural part of aging. But if a loved one does have dementia, getting an early diagnosis of dementia can make a big impact on their quality of life.

Dementia is not a disease in itself. Instead, it is the collective name for a group of symptoms, caused by different illnesses, that appear when brain cells stop working properly. Whilst dementia is not yet curable, there are some medicines available and group activities people living with dementia can take part in that can help make day-to-day life a bit easier.

Dementia affects everybody differently, but these are some of the common symptoms that tend to appear in the first two years and start to impact a person's daily life:

  • Memory loss
    We all misplace things and forget people's names from time to time, but for people living with dementia, memory loss can become frequent and distressing.
  • Struggling to follow a conversation or find the right words
    People in the early stages of dementia may find it increasingly difficult to express themselves, finding that they can't recall the words they want to say, repeating themselves, or getting lost in a conversation. This can be frustrating and upsetting for both the person living with dementia and the people who care about them.
  • Difficulties with organisation and planning
    Somebody with dementia might get confused more easily and find it increasingly difficult to plan and execute complex tasks, make decisions or solve problems. Because of this, you might notice that they start to neglect complicated tasks like managing their finances or find it difficult to make appropriate decisions, like what to wear in cold weather.
  • Confusion and disorientation
    A person may start to feel lost or confused about where they are, even in places that are familiar to them. They may also become confused about time, perhaps even thinking they are back in a past time of their life.
  • Difficulty with coordination
    Somebody with dementia may have reduced spatial skills, making it increasingly difficult and dangerous to carry out activities that used to come second nature, like driving a car.
  • Difficulty concentrating
    People living with dementia may get distracted easily and you may notice they don't complete all of the steps in a task, like forgetting to serve part of a meal.
  • Anxiety and depression
    A person might become more frightened or sad about the day-to-day challenges they encounter, perhaps losing their self-confidence or becoming more withdrawn.
  • Agitation or apathy
    People living with dementia often become more irritable or upset. They may also lose interest in things they previously enjoyed. This is perhaps due to frustration at the loss of their abilities.

Displaying any of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that a person has dementia. There are also other treatable conditions, including some infections, that can mimic the early signs of dementia. But if you are starting to notice some of these symptoms, even if they are only mild, it is important to visit a GP for a proper diagnosis.

If you have a loved one living with dementia and would like to find out more about our dementia care services, get in touch with our helpful enquiries team by calling 01206 646646 or using our quick and simple enquiries form.

Find out more about how we support people living with dementia at Healthcare Homes.