The early signs of dementia

Category: Dementia, Elderly Law, Mental Capacity

The definition of dementia is damage to the brain that affects a person’s day-to-day living and is deteriorating. This can often take the form of both forgetting and confusion. However, the crucial part, of detecting early signs of dementia, is recognising that something has changed and that that change is permanent. Rather than a temporary difference that is recoverable from such as a small isolated stroke.

Grandmother with grandchild


The first sign of dementia is forgetting, this can present as:

  • Not being able to remember some people’s names
  • Whether or not they have left the oven on, which can lead to food being burnt
  • Food could also go off in the fridge, because they have forgotten to use it before the best before date
  • They can also have some word-finding difficulties, as they are slow in remembering the correct word

Which means they can often understand what is being said to them much better than they can respond. Due to hearing words do not require remembering them to say them out loud.

If the person is aware that they are forgetting, they can develop some strategies to try to help them remember. Such as talking to themselves to remind themselves to do things, or leaving post-its around the house to remind them.


The second sign of dementia is confusion. They can also experience confusion which is about not understanding their environment. Unfamiliar places can seem quite frightening and even when they are in familiar places, they forget their purpose.

A person with dementia can go to the supermarket, but not remember that their reason to be there is to purchase groceries. Which means they could appear lost.

They can also become physically lost when they have gone a very short distance from home, as their familiar territory becomes increasingly small. There can also be confusion around money. They understand the money is used to buy groceries in the supermarket, but would struggle to find the right coins. So they could hand over notes and wait for the change, but then never use the change in their wallet as it’s too confusing.

Mood Changes

These changed behaviours are likely to impact the person’s mood. They may become upset, angry, sad, or paranoid. If they live with someone who begins compensating for them, they can become very quiet as they become disempowered in their life.

Forgetting and confusion are the two most common symptoms of dementia. Additionally, there can be some more unusual symptoms including hearing issues, issues with sight, and issues with mobility.

The crucial thing to note is that something is different, something has changed and the changes are permanent and deteriorating. The deterioration may be over a long time, so is not necessarily easy to spot within a few months. This deterioration will be ongoing, and the more that time progresses, the more that it will be clear that something is not the same as it was before. Sometimes the diagnosis of dementia can answer this question “what is wrong?”, at the same time, it can be a frightening time to be given a diagnosis.

If you have any concerns that a person may have dementia, or need assistance in planning for the future, please contact Hilary Cragg at Nash & Co.

Direct Phone: 01752 827047

E-mail: [email protected]

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