6 Early Symptoms of Dementia: Spot the Signs of Dementia

by Tiffany Ng

Dementia is an illness affecting the brain, leading to memory loss and declining mental and cognitive abilities. Losing oneself is extremely traumatic and spotting the signs of dementia early can help us to slow its progression and relieve stress on ourselves and our loved ones.

For instance, Uncle N, who has dementia, wakes up at four in the morning and insists on leaving the house. He finds it hard to explain why he wants to leave the house. This may sound frustrating, but learning to spot the early signs of dementia will make it easier to understand him and respond with love and compassion.

There are many types of dementia, each with their unique symptoms. Generally, here are six early signs of dementia that you can keep a look out for.

Get Your Free Dementia E-Book Today

Knowing how to navigate a new dementia diagnosis for a loved one can be a daunting process for a caregiver.

To help address some of your concerns, we’ve curated a FREE dementia e-book to bring you through some things to expect as a caregiver as well as the different caregiving options available.

> Download Dementia E-Book Now 

dementia guide

Sign 1: Short-term memory loss

Notable and rapid memory loss in dementia patients is caused by physical changes in the brain, with cells dying at a faster rate than normal.

Distinguish between typical ageing from dementia by keeping an eye out for frequent pausing when searching for words or a striking decline in memory for recent events. Uncle N may have difficulty remembering recent conversations but can remember what happened when he was younger. By chatting with him, you might even learn a thing or two about his childhood!

Sign 2: Misplacing things often

We all misplace things, but Uncle N may leave belongings in unusual places (like the fridge) and is unable to retrace his steps. In such situations, placate and help him to solve the problem, like telling him that you will help to search for the lost item.

Sign 3: Lose their way easily

Sense of direction and spatial orientation usually worsen during the early onset of dementia. Uncle N may often forget how he arrived at a location or where he currently is. Try finding the reason behind his behaviour, such as his past profession or habits.

Sign 4: Trouble making plans or decisions

Uncle N may experience difficulty in concentrating and may take a longer time to complete things than before. This change may gradually affect his lifestyle as he finds it harder to make plans or decisions.

You know your loved one best, so respond to them accordingly. For example, if Uncle N has a stubborn character, forcing him to make a decision won’t work. Practise patience and guide him through the process instead.

Sign 5: Changes in mood

It may feel as if a switch is present in Uncle N’s mind. Each time it clicks, his attention either switches to something else or he abruptly forgets why he’s in that moment and become upset. Confusion, anxiety, anger and fear are common emotions a dementia patient may experience. Take baby steps and slowly learn to recognise the situations that may upset them.

Sign 6: Withdrawal

The confusion and fear that Uncle N is experiencing may result in withdrawal, such as a refusal to go out as he used to. While you may be tempted to force him to get out of the house, consider the underlying causes of this change.

The best solution may be to seek professional medical help. Sometimes, however, a little white lie works wonders (like enticing Uncle N with his favourite food) when getting him to go out or to see the doctor.

It’s been widely documented that giving dementia patients the respect they deserve helps best. Feeling understood is crucial to everybody’s well-being, and an improved understanding of a dementia patient’s actions will improve your attitudes and responses towards them.

If you or someone you know needs support caring for a loved one with dementia, we can help.

  1. 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Retrieved 19 January 2020, from https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/10_signs
About the Writer
Tiffany Ng
Tiffany loves listening to stories, seeking random fun facts and exploring all things local. She started writing to spark joy and inspire kindness. In her free time, you can find her playing games with her grandparents or planning for her next big adventure on our sunny island.
Make Home Care Personal To Your Loved One

Make Home Care Personal To Your Loved One

Get started with a free consultation today, and learn why thousands of Singaporeans trust Homage to deliver the best care in their homes.

Get Care Now