Dementia Symptoms And Warning Signs

By: Danni Peck

Updated February 26, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Lisa Cooper


Dementia is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It affects older adults most frequently, but it also affects adults who are younger. Knowing signs of early dementia can help you get a head start on getting the best treatment and connecting with a variety of support organizations. If you or a loved one already has dementia, it might also help you to know later signs of dementia including signs that death is near. After all, dementia is hard enough to face, but it can be even harder when you do not know what is happening to you.

What Are The Symptoms Of Dementia?

Dementia is not always easy to recognize. Even when you know the signs and symptoms of dementia, it'i important to see a doctor if you have concerns. You need a basic idea of what types of dementia signs to watch for, so you can know when it's time to see your physician. You can start by learning these symptoms of dementia and when they can be cause for alarm.

Signs And Symptoms Of Dementia

Although many different brain conditions lead to dementia, the most common symptoms may happen in each of them. If you notice these warning signs of dementia, it is time to have a conversation with your primary care physician to decide if you or your loved one needs to be tested and evaluated.

General Symptoms Of Dementia

If you need just a basic answer to the question 'What are the signs of dementia?' you can start with a simple list of general symptoms of dementia. The following dementia signs and symptoms may show up in any dementia.

  • Forgetting important things often and not remembering them later
  • Problems are completing everyday tasks, such as preparing a meal
  • Getting lost more easily or not knowing where they are or what year it is
  • Excessive trouble finding the right word, substituting the wrong word, or understanding others
  • Trouble thinking, reasoning, and judging situations appropriately
  • Trouble telling what direction theyare going or judging distance
  • Rapid mood swings, confusion, suspiciousness, or losing inhibitions
  • Trouble with starting activities on your own without prompting

Early Signs Of Dementia

The first signs of dementia might happen with little fanfare. That is because everyone can forget something at some time, get lost, or have other experiences and behaviors that could be construed as early symptoms of dementia if they happened often. One thing to remember is that you need to watch for patterns rather than just one instance of the symptom. Here is an early sign of dementia checklist to help you:

  • Forgetting recent events
  • Becoming confused more often
  • More difficulty concentrating than usual
  • Changes in personality and behavior
  • Increasing apathy, withdrawal, or depression
  • Begins losing the ability to perform everyday tasks
  • Trouble following the storyline of a book, TV show, movie, or a story they hear

There is also an early sign of dementia test your doctor can give you. One test is a simple 6-question inventory asking questions like the year, month, ad time. You are also asked to count backward from 20 to 1 and say the months of the year in reverse order. When the person is giving you the test begins, they give you an address to remember. The last question on the test is to remember that address.

You can also take a screening test online. The SAGE Test is one that requires no special equipment. You can download it and take it to find out if you show enough early dementia signs to be concerned about now.

What Are The Early Signs Of Dementia For Each Gender?

Dementia warning signs may vary from person to person. There are also some differences for certain groups of people. For example, signs of dementia in men may be somewhat different from signs of dementia in women.

Verbal skills can deteriorate in dementia, but the rate of decline in these abilities is typically faster for women than for men. Women have memory problems earlier in the course of dementia than men, too. Men who have depression are more likely to develop dementia than women.


Warning Signs Of Dementia

Itis important to know how to recognize the early signs of dementia.It is even more crucial to notice signs of rapid onset dementia, early onset dementia, and late-stage dementia signs that indicate that the end of life is nearing. Each of these types of symptoms requires immediate attention.

Rapid Onset Dementia

Sudden onset dementia can happen at any age, and it is important to seek help as soon as possible. While most dementias develop over the course of years, rapid onset dementias can happen in months, weeks, or even days. The symptoms are mostly the same as for slow-developing dementias such as Alzheimer's Disease, but they come on suddenly. Motor and cerebellar dysfunction happen much more quickly in sudden onset dementia than in other dementias.

Signs Of Early Onset Dementia

Early onset dementia refers to the age at which you have the first symptoms. Early onset dementia age is younger than age 65. It happens most often to people 45 and older, but an even earlier diagnosis of dementia is possible in your 30s.

When the onset of dementia happens during your working years, you might have an entirely different group of problems than someone who gets the symptoms after they are retired. You must find a way to support yourself and your family if you have one. The first step is knowing what you are facing. That starts with recognizing the symptoms of early onset dementia. In addition to general early dementia symptoms, early onset dementia symptoms include:

  • Problems remembering things just learned
  • Memory loss that disrupts work or home life
  • Problems with planning and problem-solving
  • Problems with completing work or home tasks
  • Confusion of times and locations
  • Certain vision problems that can include trouble judging distance, color, and contrast, as well as trouble with reading and driving
  • Having difficulty retracing steps when you something is lost
  • Showing poor judgment at work or during personal time
  • Avoiding work projects and social activities
  • Mood problems that might include depression, anxiety, confusion, or paranoia
  • Changes in personality

These dementia early signs may sound similar to other early warning signs of dementia that happen later in life. The difference is in how they affect your life as a working-age adult. It is important to recognize these symptoms of early dementia because you need to act quickly to know how to plan for your future and the future of your family.

Signs Of Late-Stage Dementia

You may already know you or a loved one has dementia. You may have been dealing with it for a long time. You may never have been told what to watch for to know when you're in the final stages of dementia. Dementia experts have identified these 10 signs that death is near:


  1. You can only say a few words or phrases, and they might not make sense.
  2. You need help with all your everyday activities.
  3. You eat less, have trouble swallowing, and eventually lose your ability to swallow altogether.
  4. You lose all control of your bladder and bowels and become completely incontinent.
  5. You cannot walk or stand at all and have trouble sitting up, eventually unable to do anything but lie in bed.
  6. Your condition deteriorates rapidly.
  7. You lose consciousness.
  8. You become more agitated and restless than before.
  9. Your breathing becomes irregular.
  10. Your hands and feet are extremely cold

Types Of Dementia And Their Symptoms

What are the symptoms of dementia for you? That partly depends on what type of dementia you have.

Frontal Lobe Dementia Symptoms

Frontal lobe dementia also called frontotemporal dementia, usually happens to people between the ages of 45 and 64. Frontal lobe dementia symptoms include:

  • Changes in behavior, judgment, and personality.
  • Problems with written or spoken language skills.
  • Problems initiating movement.
  • Problems with walking, posture, and stiffness in the upper body. Problems with eye movements.
  • Muscle weakness.

The specific frontotemporal dementia symptoms you have depends greatly on what type of frontal lobe dementia you are diagnosed with. To find out more about these frontal, temporal dementia symptoms, talk to a counselor or doctor knowledgeable about dementia and its specific symptoms. (Source)

Lewy Body Dementia Symptoms

Lewy body dementia is a condition in which alpha-synuclein deposits called Lewy bodies accumulate in your brain. These affect your brain chemicals and cause some problems with thinking, behavior, mood, and movement. You might see the following Lewybody dementia symptoms:

  • Changes in thought pattern and reasoning
  • Changing levels of alertness and confusion from one time to the next
  • Hunched posture, balance difficulty, rigid muscles, or other Parkinsonian symptoms
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Acting out dreams
  • Autonomic nervous system malfunctions
  • Significant memory loss that is still milder than with Alzheimer's

Symptoms Of Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia is caused by conditions that diminish or block the flow of blood to the brain. Doctors tend to watch for vascular dementia symptoms following a stroke or blood clot. Symptoms of vascular dementia include:

  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Speech problems, such as trouble finding the right word
  • Vision loss
  • Trouble with planning and judgment
  • Uncontrolled laughing or crying
  • Trouble paying attention
  • New and increasing problems with social situations

Signs Of Dementia In Dogs

People who have pets may benefit from the emotional connections they feel with their pets. They may also benefit from taking daily care of their pet, as it ensures that they get out of bed and follow certain daily routines. However, dogs can get dementia just as people can. Signs of dementia in dogs include:


  • Disturbed sleep-wake cycles
  • Anxiety
  • Becoming aggressive more easily
  • Decreased physical activity
  • Howling, barking, or whining for no apparent reason
  • Pacing
  • Staring at walls

Dealing With Dementia Symptoms

Even before you get a diagnosis, the symptoms can be extremely worrisome. Before its onset dementia may be the last thing on your mind. However, once you start noticing symptoms of dementia, it is time to pay attention to what is happening to you or your loved one.

Dealing with the symptoms of dementia once you've been diagnosed can create just as much anxiety as when you did not know you had it. The difference is that you now have information about what is causing the symptoms. Talking to a counselor is a good way to find ways around the symptoms to have the best quality of life that's possible for you.

Licensed counselors are available at to provide online therapeutic guidance when it suits your schedule, wherever you are. A counselor is someone who can offer support through this difficult time. Because they learn the signs and symptoms of dementia as a part of their psychology education, they can help you recognize when something is going wrong with your memory or other cognitive functions.

Your physician may have a limited amount of time for you, but a counselor can be available for weekly sessions as you need them. You do not have to go through this alone. Whether you are the dementia patient or you are helping a loved one with dementia, you can get the help you need to deal with the symptoms and treatment process!

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