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The Health Centre

Ten Warning Signs of Dementia


This is a checklist of common symptoms of dementia.

Go through the list of the symptoms, if there are several that you say 'yes' to, a doctor should be consulted for a complete examination of the person with the symptoms.

Recent memory loss that affects job skills

  • It is normal to forget meetings, colleaguesí names, or a business associateís telephone number occasionally, but then remember them later.

  • A person with dementia may forget things more often, and not remember them later.

Difficulty performing familiar tasks

  • Busy people can be so distracted from time to time that they may leave the carrots on the stove and only remember to serve them when the meal has finished.

  • A person with dementia might prepare a meal and not only forget to serve it, but also forget they made it.

Problems with language

  • Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes.

  • A person with dementia may forget simple words or substitute inappropriate words.

Disorientation of time and place

  • It is normal to forget the day of the week or your destination for a moment.

  • People with dementia can become lost on their own street, not know where they are, how they got there or how to get back home.

Poor or decreased judgement

  • Dementia affects a personís memory and concentration and this in turn affects their judgement. Many activities, such as driving, require good judgement and when this ability is affected, the person will be a risk, not only to themselves, but to others on the road.

Problems with abstract thinking

  • Balancing a chequebook may be difficult for many of us.

  • Someone with dementia could forget completely what the numbers are and what needs to be done with them.

Misplacing things

  • Anyone can temporarily misplace a wallet or keys. 

  • A person with dementia may repeatedly put things in inappropriate places.

Changes in mood or behaviour

  • Everyone becomes sad or moody from time to time.

  • Someone with dementia can have rapid mood swings from calm to tears to anger, for no apparent reason.

Changes in personality

  • Peopleís personalities can change a little with age. 

  • A person with dementia can become suspicious or fearful, or just apathetic and uncommunicative.  They may also become dis-inhibited, over-familiar or more outgoing than previously.

Loss of initiative

  • It is normal to tire of housework, business activities or social obligations.

  • The person with dementia may become very passive and require cues prompting them to become involved.

Based on Is it Alzheimerís? Ten Warning Signs You Should Know, Alzheimerís Association, USA. Further information - phone the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 (freecall) or visit www.alzheimers.org.au





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