1. Memory Loss

Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common early signs of dementia. A person begins to forget more often and is unable to recall the information later.

What’s normal?

Forgetting names or appointments occasionally.


Memory Lapse and Dementia

Everyone becomes forgetful from time to time: forgetting where you placed the car keys, not remembering to pick up an item at the grocery store, forgetting to return a friend’s phone call.

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2. Difficulty Performing Familiar Tasks

People with dementia often find it hard to plan or complete everyday tasks. Individuals may lose track of the steps involved in preparing a meal, placing a telephone call or playing a game.

What’s normal?

Occasionally forgetting why you came into a room or what you planned to say.

3. Problems with Language

People with Alzheimer’s disease often forget simple words or substitute unusual words, making their speech or writing hard to understand. They may be unable to find the toothbrush, for example, and instead ask for “the thing for my mouth.”

What’s normal?

Forgetting names or appointments occasionally.

4. Disorientation to Time and Place

People with Alzheimer’s disease can become lost in their own neighborhood, forget where they are and how they got there, and not know how to get home.

What’s normal?

Forgetting the day of the week or where you were going.

5. Poor or Decreased Judgement

Those with Alzheimer’s may dress inappropriately, wearing several layers on a warm day or little clothing in the cold. They may show poor judgment, like giving away large sums of money to telemarketers.

What’s normal?

Making a questionable or debatable decision from time to time.

Learn More about diagnosing Alzheimer's

There are many reasons why it’s important to seek a doctor’s diagnosis as soon as possible. There are many causes for dementia symptoms and this may determine how to treat it. Learn More Today

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6. Problems with Abstract Thinking

Someone with Alzheimer’s disease may have unusual difficulty performing complex mental tasks, like forgetting what numbers are for and how they should be used.

What’s normal?

Finding it challenging to balance a checkbook.

7. Misplacing Things

A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places: an iron in the freezer a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.

What’s normal?

Misplacing keys or wallet temporarily.

8. Change in Mood or Behavior

Someone with Alzheimer’s disease may show rapid mood swings—from calm to tears to anger—for no apparent reason.


What’s normal?

Occasionally feeling sad or moody.

What to Expect When You’re Caregiving

Anyone who has cared for a loved one with Alzheimer’s knows just how stressful and unpredictable the experience can be. Yet most people who care for a family member with the disease have little preparation or experience when they begin their caregiving journey. Learn More

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9. Changes in Personality

The personalities of people with dementia can change dramatically. They may become extremely confused, suspicious, fearful or dependent on a family member.

What’s normal?

People’s personalities do change somewhat with age.

10. Loss of Initiative

A person with Alzheimer’s disease may become very passive, sitting in front of the TV for hours, sleeping more than usual or not wanting to do usual activities.

What’s normal?

Sometimes feeling weary of work or social obligations.

Apathy a common problem in Alzheimer's

Apathy or loss of initiative reduces the quality of life for patients with dementia and increases the workload for caregivers. It also increases the likelihood that someone with Alzheimer’s will need to leave the home and enter a nursing home or other long-term care facility.

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