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Early signs of dementia

The early signs of dementia can often be hard to detect as they are very subtle and could be attributed to a variety of other conditions. Symptoms may also vary depending on age, the type of dementia, and overall health.

So how can you know what is normal and what may not be? We’ve outlined the main signs below, although please see your GP or specialist for a diagnosis.

Memory loss that affects day-to-day function

While occasional forgetfulness is nothing to worry about, a person with dementia may forget things more frequently and not remember them later.

Difficulty performing familiar tasks

A person with dementia may continually have trouble with all the steps of once-familiar or routine tasks, such as preparing a meal or doing the laundry.

Confusion about time and place

We all momentarily forget today’s date every once in a while. But a person with dementia may have difficulty finding their way to a familiar place, or feel confused about where they are.

Problems with language

Dementia can impair a person’s ability to recall simple words. A person with dementia may use a word incorrectly, making sentences difficult to understand.

Problems with abstract thinking

Balancing a cheque-book can be difficult for anyone, but a person with dementia may have trouble knowing what the numbers mean.

Poor or decreased judgement

A person with dementia may have difficulty judging distance or direction, particularly when driving a car.

Problems misplacing things

Misplaced objects could be a sign of dementia if a person places things in nonsensical or inappropriate places.

Changes in personality or behaviour

Someone with dementia can exhibit rapid mood swings for no apparent reason. They can become confused, suspicious or withdrawn.

A loss of initiative

It's normal to tire of some activities. But dementia may cause a person to lose interest in previously enjoyed activities.

If you are worried that you, or someone you know might have dementia, please contact us on 0800 4 DEMENTIA / 0800 433 636 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . You can also use this referral formto refer someone to Dementia Auckland.