The Earlier Than Early Signs of Dementia
A resource for family members and individuals concerned about the signs and symptoms
Does Marge's story below remind you of behaviors that you have seen in a loved one?
One unusual or concerning behavior may be hard to recognize. Early signs of dementia
will NOT appear daily. However, when these behaviors are put together like puzzle
pieces with other signs or incidents, they can show a bigger picture of subtle cognitive
Dementia, or the loss of intellectual function such as thinking, remembering or reasoning
that interferes with daily life, is NOT a normal process of aging.
Short Term Memory Loss
Although there are stacks of canned beans in the pantry, Marge keeps buying more.
Reality and Fantasy Become Blurred
Marge thinks what she sees on TV is real. If there is bad weather or a story about
war, she becomes childish and frightened.
Difficulty Performing a Familiar Task
Always neat and meticulous about laundry and ironing, Marge no longer seems to care
that theses things are left undone.
Difficulty with Abstract Thinking
Marge, a former book-keeper, never let her finances get out of control. Marge now
finds simple math difficult and balancing her checkbook a challenge.
Time and Place Disorientation
Marge no longer recognizes familiar surroundings and sometimes wanders away from her
Sundowning and Sleeplessness
Marge is very agitated as evening draws near. She is restless and fearful of shadows.
Note if the following statements are true about your loved one.
Remember, these signs may be sporadic and may not take place daily.
- ___He/she loses interest in his/her activities, hobbies, reading, attending church
or other social activities.
- ___He/she often repeats him/herself or asks the same questions repeatedly.
- ___He/she is more forgetful or is having trouble with short-term memory.
- ___He/she may need constant reminders to do tasks like taking medication, shopping,
- ___He/she forgets appointments, holidays or important family dates.
- ___He/she seems sad, in a bad mood, angry or cries more often than in the past.
- ___He/she starts having trouble doing simple calculations, balancing a checkbook or
- ___He/she becomes irritable, agitated, suspicious, or has started seeing, hearing
or believing things that are not real.
- ___There are concerns about his/her driving and getting lost, or the person has stopped
- ___He/she has trouble finding the words he/she wants to say, finishing sentences or
naming people or things.
- ___His/her eating, dressing, bathing or using the bathroom habits are changing and
may need help to complete.
See a doctor early if these signs are present in your loved one.
If several are noted, take your loved one to the doctor as soon as you can. Your checked
statements do not necessarily mean the person you care for has Alzheimer's disease
or a related dementia, but may mean a visit to the doctor would be beneficial.
Ask your family physician or specialist to perform cognitive tests for dementia. An
early diagnosis offers greater opportunity for better treatment of symptoms. When
planning to take your loved one to the doctor, print out this page and bring it with
you to discuss.
*Design and printing of this brochure was made possible by a generous donation from
the Don-Kay-Clay-Cash Foundation. Contact the GIA for additional copies or download
the printable version above, Putting the Pieces Together.