10 early signs of dementia to look out for

Everyone is unique and can develop signs of dementia differently. No one will have symptoms that develop in exactly the same way. So what do you need to look out for?


An individual’s personality, social awareness and general health are all important factors to look at when determining if someone may have dementia or not.

We've put together a list of the most common early symptoms of dementia for you to look out for.

Memory loss

Memory loss is the most common, most talked about early symptom of dementia and is more noticeable in short-term memory.

Difficulty performing familiar tasks

People with dementia can often struggle to complete everyday tasks. Tasks that are so familiar they would usually do them without thinking. For example, a person with dementia may not know what order to put clothes on or the steps for preparing a meal.

Problems with language

If someone has dementia they can often forget simple words or even substitute words for ones that don't make sense. They may think they have said the right word when really a jumbled one comes out.

Disorientation to time and place

We all forget what day it is or where we’re going sometimes, but people with dementia can sometimes confuse day and night or have no concept of time. They can often become lost in familiar places or forget where they live.  

Poor or decreased judgement

If someone has dementia they may dress inappropriately, wearing several layers of clothes on a warm day. This can also affect poor judgement in social situations, for example they may make an inappropriate comment. 

Problems with keeping track of things

A common sign of dementia is finding it difficult to follow a conversation or keep up things such as paying their bills.

Misplacing things

Misplacing something is not always a sign of dementia; everyone misplaces their car keys or mobile phone at some point. However a person with dementia may misplace things often or put things in unusual places, for example their keys in the sugar bowl.

Changes in mood or behaviour

It’s not uncommon for people to have sad days, but a person with dementia can become very emotional very quickly and experience rapid mood swings for no apparent reason. They may also show less emotional than they previously would.

Changes in personality

They may seem different from their usual self in ways that are difficult to pinpoint. A person with dementia may become anxious, irritable, depressed or agitated, especially in situations where memory loss is causing difficulty.

Loss of initiative  

It’s common for people to become bored, have a lazy day or not want to go to work every so often. However a person with dementia can become very passive, sitting in front of the TV for hours, not wanting to leave the house, sleeping more than usual or lose interest in their hobbies. 

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms or you're worried about a friend or relative, visit your doctor and discuss your concerns. 

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