Early signs of dementia

File Icon

Published: 12/10/2021

Early signs of dementia 

During the early stages of dementia, a person’s symptoms can be relatively mild and can often go unnoticed. There are several different types of dementia and the symptoms each person experiences may differ.  

What is dementia?

Dementia is the term used to describe a group of symptoms that result from damage to the brain caused by different diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. The symptoms of dementia can vary depending on the part of the brain which is damaged. In some cases, the symptoms of dementia can progress slowly over a long period of time, rather than develop rapidly. It is important to remember that the symptoms experienced and how rapidly they develop will vary from person to person. 

Different types of dementia 

There are five different types of progressive dementia. As the name suggests, progressive dementias are types of dementias that progress and are not reversible. 

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Not all causes of Alzheimer’s disease are known. However, experts know that a small percentage is related to the mutation of three genes - which can be passed from parent to child. Some of the common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include: 

  • Memory problems, such as regularly forgetting events, names and faces.
  • Becoming confused in unfamiliar settings.
  • Asking questions repetitively. 
  • Difficulty in finding the right words.
  • Difficulty with tasks and activities that require organisation and planning.
  • Becoming more withdrawn and anxious. 
  • Difficulty with numbers and handling change in shops.

Vascular dementia
Vascular dementia is caused by damage to the vessels that supply blood to the brain. Individuals who are living with vascular dementia may experience some of the following symptoms: 

  • Difficulty with problem-solving. 
  • Slowed thinking.
  • Loss of focus and organisational ability. 

Lewy body dementia
Lewy Body dementia is one of the more common types of progressive dementia. Lewy bodies are abnormal balloon-like clumps of protein that have been found in the brain. Some common symptoms include: 

  • Visual hallucinations. 
  • Difficulty concentrating and maintaining focus. 
  • Uncoordinated/ slow movement. 

Frontotemporal dementia 
Frontotemporal dementia is caused by the breakdown of nerve cells and their connections in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. The most common symptoms of Frontotemporal dementia include: 

  • Changes in personality and behaviour.
  • Decreased or poor judgement.
  • Changes in language and movement.  

Mixed dementia 
Mixed dementia can be categorised as a combination of two or more of the above types of dementia. 

Symptoms of early dementia  

In general, there are some early signs and symptoms that you can keep an eye out for. Symptoms can vary from person to person and some people may experience milder symptoms, making dementia difficult to identify during the early stages. These are the most common early symptoms of dementia:

  • Memory loss.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks.
  • Struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word.
  • Mood changes.
  • Being confused about time and place. 
  • Challenges in planning or problem-solving. 
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. 
  • Decreased or poor judgement.

For more extensive information and guidance on the signs and symptoms of dementia, you can visit the Alzheimer’s Society website here, or contact your local GP for additional advice and support. 

Memory loss  
Memory loss is one of the most common early signs of dementia. A person who has dementia may struggle to retain new information. The memory loss experienced during the early stages of dementia can sometimes result in a person being unable to carry out daily tasks. 

Difficulty with familiar tasks
A person with dementia may struggle to carry out familiar daily tasks. This can include tasks such as preparing a meal. 

Mood changes
Mood changes can be sudden and can occur for no apparent reason. In the early stages of dementia, a person may also become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious. 

Decreased or poor judgement 
Another common early symptom of dementia is poor judgement. Poor judgement can mean difficulty making the appropriate decisions for things such as knowing what clothes to wear in cold weather.  

Worried your loved one has dementia?
If someone you know is displaying any of the symptoms listed above, even if it is just one, you should encourage them to see a GP to discuss the early signs and symptoms of dementia. In some cases, if dementia is found early, its progress can be slowed down, allowing the person to maintain their mental function for longer. There are several resources online that offer support and guidance. 

Alzheimer’s Society 

Dementia UK 


How can we help? 
Our highly-trained CareGivers can support your loved ones to remain in the comfort of their own homes while receiving the highest-quality care. Each of our care plans is bespoke to the individual’s needs. 

For more information on our dementia care services, visit our website here. 

At Right at Home UK, we are national charity partners with Alzheimer’s Society. We are passionate about supporting such a worthy cause and continue to do our part to raise vital funds.