The National Institute on Aging reports that 50% of people over the age of 85 may have some form of dementia. But how do you know if your loved one has early signs of dementia or just natural memory loss due to aging? Do you know what to look for? Have you noticed that your loved one is starting to forget names, places, or dates? Do they forget to take their medications? Knowing the signs of early
dementia can help you recognize the symptoms of dementia in your aging loved one.

Check out these top 8 signs of dementia to watch out for:

1. Trouble with Short Term Memory

People with dementia often have problems with their short-term memory. Occasionally, we all have difficulty remembering a word or someone’s name. But for those with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, symptoms can become progressively worse and more frequent. For example, they may no longer be able to remember what they ate for breakfast or where they left items like a wallet or keys. However, a person with dementia is better able to recall events from many years ago, but not recent memories or current events.

2. Mood Swings

Dementia can affect parts of the brain that change the ability to know what is and isn’t appropriate. In the early stages of dementia, your loved one may realize changes are happening and may begin to avoid social situations. Extroverts may become introverts and introverts may become more social and confident. Because of the changes happening in their brain, your loved one may have feelings of depression, fear, anxiety, and being overwhelmed.

3. Unable to Complete Normal Tasks

If your loved one is suffering from dementia, you may find that he or she has difficulty focusing on completing everyday tasks such as cooking, laundry, or normal hygiene. As the disease progresses, they may also be unable to follow steps and complete familiar tasks, such cooking, cleaning, or playing a game.

4. Lack of Interest (Apathy)

Apathetic behaviors, such as a loss of motivation, are common symptoms in those living with dementia. Apathy is often confused with depression, but individuals with apathy may not have other signs of depression like hopelessness or suicidal thoughts. They do lose interest, however, in hobbies and other activities that once made them happy. Noisy social events may make it difficult for the person with dementia to cope. They begin to find it difficult to express their emotions or choose to not communicate with friends and family.

Apathetic behaviors, such as a loss of motivation, are common symptoms in those living with dementia. Apathy is often confused with depression, but individuals with apathy may not have other signs of depression like hopelessness or suicidal thoughts.

5. Difficulty Following Along

The cognitive changes that happen with dementia can greatly impact participating in casual conversation. Due to the decline in memory and language processing, conversations become harder and harder to keep up. This cognitive decline also causes increased confusion when trying to watch television, understand a movie, or read a book.

6. Confusion

During the later stages of dementia, a person with dementia will experience memory loss and severe confusion. Confusion, a general term for early onset dementia, may be mild at the beginning, but worsens as the disease progresses. You may notice that your loved one is showing signs of lapses in memory, judgment, thinking processes, or forgetting names of friends and family. They may display difficulty communicating their feelings, wants, and needs, as well as increased agitation when trying to socialize with others. Certain situations, such as a change in routine, can cause symptoms to worsen.

7. Forgetfulness (People, Locations, and Routines)

Everyone becomes forgetful at one time or another. Occasionally forgetting things is a part of life. That’s why we set reminders on our phones or place sticky notes on our computers. Although forgetfulness comes with age, memory loss linked to dementia becomes progressively worse. Extreme forgetfulness, such as forgetting names and faces of loved one, or difficulty following step-by-step instructions or directions, are often signs of dementia.

8. Repetition

A person with dementia may do or say something over and over, repeating a word, phrase, or activity. Dementia causes a deterioration of brain cells, making it more difficult for the individual to make sense of the world around them. Repetition may also be a result of memory loss, and the person may not remember what they did or said. Repetition can be frustrating for those around the person with dementia. You may notice they your loved one is eating meals more than once, they’re taking multiple showers, or repeating stories in a conversation. Be aware that repetition can lead to the person with dementia taking too much medication. Remember that the person isn’t being difficult on purpose, so be patient with them.


There are approximately 50 million people living with dementia. Because there are different stages of dementia, the signs and symptoms will vary from mild to progressive. It’s important to know the signs of dementia as the earlier the diagnosis, the better the chance it can improve your loved one’s quality of life.