Symptoms of Dementia (Beyond Memory Loss)

There may be different symptoms depending on the dementia type.

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When most people think of dementia, they think of memory loss. For example, people with dementia may have trouble remembering names and faces, or they might also repeat the same comments or questions. However, if you’re only looking for memory loss in your loved one, you may miss some key symptoms of dementia.

It’s important to note that symptoms of dementia can vary depending on the type. The different types have similar symptoms, but certain symptoms may be more prominent in some types than others. In general, dementia is a disease caused by abnormal changes or damage to the brain. What caused the changes determines the dementia type. (Learn about the most common types of dementia here.)

Common Symptoms of Dementia

Dementia often progresses over time. You might notice mild symptoms at first, but they may become more severe as years pass. Here are the signs to look for in your loved one:

  • Difficulty remembering names and faces
  • Repeating questions and comments
  • Difficulty planning, sticking to a plan, or following instructions
  • Problems with organizing
  • Difficulty reasoning and solving problems
  • Reduced ability to concentrate, pay attention, or multitask
  • Appearing lethargic, inattentive, or “lost in space”
  • Difficulty working with numbers and managing finances
  • Confusion about the date, what’s happening, or where they are
  • Challenges with spatial awareness and driving
  • Problems with vision, reading, and identifying color
  • Trouble following a conversation, finishing thoughts, or naming objects
  • Speech that is disorganized or illogical
  • Misplacing items, and even accusing others of stealing or hiding them
  • Withdrawal from hobbies or social activities
  • Changes in mood or personality and difficulty controlling emotions
  • Requiring assistance with basic tasks, like cooking or getting dressed

What to Do If You Notice the Signs

Currently, there is no cure or treatment for most progressive dementias. Still, recognizing the signs in your loved one is an important first step. That way, you can get a diagnosis and help your loved one get the support they need to navigate life with dementia safely and with dignity.