Nine dementia symptoms most people ignore

The number of people with dementia is expected to reach 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million in 2015, according to the World Health Organisation

May Bulman
Friday 16 September 2016 17:02 BST
9 signs of dementia

As the number of people suffering from dementia continues to rise - the World Health Organisation estimates 65.7 million patients by 2030 and 115.4 million in 2050 - increased effort is being placed on early detection.

There are over 9.9 million new cases of dementia each year worldwide - meaning someone is diagnosed every 3.2 seconds.

Despite the rising numbers early stages of dementia are often very mild, meaning they can be overlooked and simply put down to 'getting older’.

These are some tell-tale symptoms many people ignore:

Subtle short-term memory changes

Trouble with memory can be an early symptom of dementia.

It is often subtle problems with short-term memory, such as forgetting where they left an item, struggling to remember why they entered a particular room.

A sufferer may be able to remember events that took place years ago, but can’t remember what they had for breakfast.

Mood swings

A change in mood is common with dementia.

This can be difficult for a sufferer to recognise in themselves, but is detected by people around them.

Sufferers may also experience personality shifts, as the condition can often affect judgment.

A typical type of personality change seen with dementia is a shift from being shy to outgoing.

Difficulty finding the right words

A person with dementia may have difficulty finding the right words to express themselves.

Having a conversation with them can be difficult, and it may take longer than usual to conclude.

Difficulty completing normal tasks

More struggle to complete normal tasks may indicate that someone has early dementia.

This usually starts with difficulty doing more complex tasks like balancing a cheque book or playing games that have a lot of rules.

Along with the struggle to complete familiar tasks, they may find it harder to learn how to do new things or follow new routines.


Apathy or listlessness commonly occurs in early dementia.

A person with symptoms could lose interest in hobbies or activities, which can sometimes mean they seem emotionally flat and lose interest in spending time with friends and family.

Difficulty following storylines

Just as finding and using the right words becomes difficult, people with dementia sometimes find it hard to follow storylines.

Struggling to follow along with conversations or TV programmes is an early symptom of the condition.

A declining sense of direction

Sense of direction and spatial orientation commonly starts to deteriorate with the onset of dementia.

This can mean not recognising once-familiar landmarks and forgetting regularly used directions, and can make it more difficult to follow a series of directions and step-by-step instructions.

Being repetitive

Memory loss and general behavioral changes that come with dementia can lead sufferers to repeat daily tasks, or repeat the same questions in a conversation after they’ve been answered.

It can also sometimes lead to the person obsessively collecting items.

Struggling to adapt to change

Difficulty adapting to change is a typical symptom of early dementia, as not being able to remember people they know or follow what others are saying can cause fear of change.

Because of this, they might crave routine and be afraid to try new experiences.

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