Signs of Dementia

It is important to distinguish between ordinary memory loss that happens as we get older or are under stress and the more serious signs of dementia. Below is an international guide on warning signs of dementia:

10-warning Signs-2017

Symptoms of Dementia:

Dementia worsens over time and can be understood as a series of stages. These stages are early, middle and advanced (late stage). Although it’s a useful guide, it’s good to remember that each person’s experience will be different.


Early Stage Symptoms

Persons in this stage may show progressive memory loss, changes in mood, withdrawal from social engagements, and self-consciousness in public or around others.

Persons may:

  • forget about recent conversations or events
  • forget the names of places and objects
  • repeat themselves regularly, such as asking the same question several times
  • show poor judgement or find it harder to make decisions
  • become unwilling to try out new things or adapt to change

Middle Stage Symptoms

  • increasing confusion and disorientation – for example, not knowing where they are and walking off and getting lost
  • obsessive, repetitive or impulsive behaviour
  • delusions (believing things that are untrue)
  • problems with speech or language (aphasia)
  • disturbed sleep (such as muddling up time and getting up at night because they are mixing up night and day)
  • changes in mood, such as frequent mood swings, depression and feeling increasingly anxious, frustrated or agitated
  • difficulty performing spatial tasks, such as judging distances
  • problems with eyesight, such as poor vision or hallucinations (seeing things that are not there)

Later Symptoms

Ultimately, in the advanced stages of dementia, the person may forget their loved ones. They may retain memory of the past but then ultimately lose that.

There may be:

  • difficulty eating and swallowing (dysphagia)
  • difficulty changing position or moving around without assistance
  • considerable weight loss (although some people eat too much and put on weight)
  • unintentional passing of urine (urinary incontinence) or stools (bowel incontinence)
  • gradual loss of speech
  • significant problems with short- and long-term memory


Dementia can be a very difficult experience for the person living with the disease and their loved ones. However, understanding the illness and knowing how to manage it well can go a long way.