6 Common Early Symptoms of Dementia to Look Out For

Posted on: 19/10/2021

Symptoms of dementia are often mild in the earlier stages, which can make it difficult to spot. However, you may still have noticed some changes in your loved one.

Below, we’ve listed 6 of the common early symptoms that you can keep an eye out for. Remember, if in doubt, it’s always best to speak to your GP.

Common early symptoms of dementia

  1. Memory loss

Memory loss is the most common symptom associated with dementia and is most noticeable with short-term memory. For example, your loved one may forget a recent conversation you had, where they have placed an item or what they went into a room for.

As their dementia progresses, they may begin to forget the names of people, places and objects.

Memory loss is usually one of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, however it is less common than other forms of dementia, such as vascular dementia and frontotemporal dementia, where it occurs later in the dementia journey.

  1. Difficulty concentrating

You may find your loved one starts to lose focus really easily and their attention span is much shorter. This is due to the areas of their brain affected by dementia, and the speed at which it progresses.

They may begin to struggle completing tasks that they would normally enjoy and do quickly and easily or seem distracted whilst doing them.

As their dementia progresses, they may also struggle to complete the most basic of tasks, such as getting dressed or making themselves a hot drink. 

  1. Difficulty with language and speech

Your loved one may struggle to find the right words to say and may have difficulty completing a sentence. This is due to a combination of slower thought process and difficulty recalling certain words and phrases, often linked to memory loss.

It may take longer to have a conversation with your loved one and this will usually become more frequent and more noticeable as their dementia progresses.

  1. Becoming confused and disorientated

Confusion and disorientation may arise because of memory loss. For example, your loved one may become confused if they are in a situation where they are surrounded by people that they have forgotten. Or, if they have popped out to the shop and forgotten the way or where they are.

It can also be more difficult to follow directions or step-by-step instructions, which can also lead to confusion and disorientation.

  1. Changes in mood

Changes in mood are another common early symptom, as your loved one may struggle to come to terms with some of the changes they are noticing in themselves. Depression is particularly common in the early stages.

As your loved one’s dementia progresses, you may also notice changes in their personality and behaviour. For example, it’s quite common for people who were once outgoing to become shyer and more withdrawn.

  1. Apathy

Apathy is another common early symptom, and you may notice your loved one no longer wants to go out or do the things they used to enjoy, such as hobbies or spending time with family and friends.

They may seem unmotivated, uninterested or detached, unlike with signs of depression where they are more likely to show emotion.

What should you do if you notice these early symptoms of dementia?

Minor memory problems are not always a sign of dementia and can in fact just be caused by other factors, such as the aging process or even simply being tired.

However, if it is becoming more frequent and more noticeable or you begin to notice any of the other early symptoms, speak to your loved one about booking an appointment with their GP.

Each type of dementia has slightly differing symptoms. To learn more about some of the most common types of dementia and their associated symptoms, have a read of our blog on Alzheimer’s Disease and 4 Other Common Types of Dementia.