Early Signs of Dementia

Early signs are often very subtle and hard to notice initially. The person recognizes something is wrong but will often deny it or try to cover it up due to embarrassment. Early signs may include:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Challenges in planning or problem solving
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • Changes in mood and personality

Stages of Dementia

Individuals progress through the stages of dementia at different rates. Onset is often subtle; however, there will generally be a continuous and progressive decline. As the disease progresses, the individual will become more dependent and require more direct supervision.

  • Realizes something is wrong but cannot change it — they will hide or cover up the problem
  • Loss of recent memory (short term memory)
  • Mild confusion, unable to concentrate, or short attention span
  • Mild communication problems
  • Impaired judgment, makes poor decisions
  • Personality and behavior changes
  • Depression
  • Loses interest in people or activities
  • Pays less attention to grooming and hygiene
  • Delusions

The Three Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
1.33 minutes

Stage Two Dementia

  • Increased memory loss
  • Moderate to severe communication problems
  • Poor judgment
  • Loses impulse control
  • Significant confusion — sensory/perceptual changes
  • Repetition
  • Difficulty in completing activities of daily living, such as bowel and bladder control; incontinence
  • Difficulty walking
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Wandering, pacing, sundowning, catastrophic reactions, agitation, hallucinations

Stage Three Dementia

  • Unable to complete activities of daily living
  • Becomes totally dependent
  • Very limited, if any, communication
  • Does not recognize self or others
  • Loses bodily functions — incontinent, minimal mobility
  • More prone to infections
  • Facial expression no longer changes — flat affect
  • Seizures



“Beyond Memory Loss.” UNC Health Talk, 5 Feb. 2018, healthtalk.unchealthcare.org/beyond-memory-loss/.

Lake Region State College. “Training for Caregivers of Individuals with Dementia.” North Dakota Department of Human Services Aging Services Division, Jan. 2006, www.silverstonegroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/sample-training-caregivers-of-individuals-with-dementia.pdf.

“The Three Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.” YouTube, uploaded by agedcarer, 27 Aug. 2008, www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjTcvNqiqnw.

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