10 Common Dementia Signs & Symptoms

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Alzheimer’s begins causing damage to the brain many years before symptoms become apparent. The brain has literally billions of neurons that form a network capable of 100 trillion connections. By the time enough connections have degraded and symptoms are apparent, there are some clear signs that indicate a person is experiencing Alzheimer’s and not just brain changes that come with normal aging.

The following list covers common symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (though some also apply to other dementias). Individuals who exhibit several of these warning signs should see a physician for a complete examination.

  1. Memory lapses that disrupt daily life – Forgetting newly-learned information and important dates or events; increased reliance on other people or memory implements to function
  2. Problem solving and planning difficulties – Issues with concentration and familiar multi-step processes like recipes or paying bills; simple tasks may take much longer than before
  3. Difficulty carrying out familiar tasks - Trouble driving to a known destination, managing a budget or remembering how a favorite game is played
  4. Locational/temporal confusion - Losing track of dates and passage of time; trouble understanding things planned for later; forgetting where they are or how they got there.
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships - Vision problems; difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color/contrast
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing - Trouble with conversation, like losing track and not knowing how to continue; repeating themselves; problems finding the right word or referring to things by the wrong name
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps - Placing things in unusual locations; inability to retrace steps to find lost items; accusations of stealing to those around them
  8. Decreased or poor judgment - Poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers; paying less attention to grooming and personal cleanliness
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities – Pulling away from social activities, interests, large groups, sports and hobbies; trouble remembering how to participate in favorite pastimes; may seem introverted
  10. Changes in mood and personality - Becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious; may be easily upset in places where they are out of their comfort zone
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