senior woman with dementia looking concernedYou’re worried about your elderly loved one. She always had a great memory for details, now she doesn’t remember where her keys are, or when her favorite show comes on.

Is this just a normal part of aging, or signs that something more serious is going on?

What is dementia?

It’s important to catch symptoms of dementia right away. Sometimes, these symptoms can be caused by underlying medical conditions, which are treatable. Early treatment and some dementia medications can even slow the progression of certain untreatable types of dementia, like Alzheimer’s.

Dementia symptoms are often misunderstood and create frustration or exhaustion for clients and their family caregivers. For more family caregiver information, please watch our webinar on how to live with the challenging symptoms of dementia.

Common symptoms of dementia include things you might expect, like memory loss, difficulty planning, difficulty communicating, and behavior changes. But there are other common signs of dementia that might surprise you. If your loved one is exhibiting any of these 12 signs, please get in touch with his or her doctor right away:

  1. Problems with walking and balance. A 2006 study made the surprising finding that the earliest signs of dementia may be physical, rather than mental. Watch out for problems walking and balancing, as well as a weak hand grip.
  2. Slips and falls. The symptoms outlined above can lead to frequent stumbling and falling. In one 2011 study of 125 older adults, people who fell most often during an eight-month period were found to also show other early signs of Alzheimer’s.
  3. Inability to detect sarcasm or lies. If you have noticed that your loved one has become unusually gullible lately, she may be exhibiting the early signs of dementia. A 2011 study found that patients with certain degenerative brain diseases couldn’t tell when someone was using sarcasm or speaking untruthfully.
  4. Staring. When we converse, we naturally move our eyes around. But someone with dementia might not. Instead, you might notice them staring frequently. You might also notice this eye movement problem if your loved one skips lines when reading aloud.
  5. Strange eating habits. Research is finding that different dementias often cause people to exhibit odd eating habits, such as a sudden strong taste for sweet foods, cramming food into their mouths, or even eating spoiled food or things that aren’t food.
  6. Being hurtful. Your usually sweet, kind mother is saying insulting or inappropriate things, and seeming to show no concern for how they might be hurting or embarrassing others. This behavior is not a usual part of aging–it’s a common early sign of dementia.
  7. Compulsive behavior. Many people like things done a certain way. But people in the early stages of dementia may exhibit strange obsessive-compulsive behaviors, such as locking doors over and over, or buying a can of corn every time they visit the store, even though they have a cupboard-full at home.

Click below to see all 12 early signs of dementia that may surprise you.

   Download 12 Early Signs of Dementia Free

If you notice that a loved one has started exhibiting some of these symptoms, you may want to take them to see their doctor and undergo a dementia test to determine their condition. They may prescribe dementia treatment to lessen the disease’s progress. This treatment may even include brain training games or even light exercise.   

Depending on the severity and progression of your loved one’s illness, you may want to consider developing a dementia care plan with your doctor or looking for in-home care or caregivers experienced in working with older adults with dementia.

Have you had a loved one who experienced the early dementia stages? Did he or she show any of these signs, or any others? Share your experience in the comments!

  • sue

    My mother has always said horrible things but they are worse now she is 92.
    She is angry all the time but maybe due to frustration.
    She has her routine and hates it when it is threatened.
    She has lost spontaneity.

    • Sandra Strobel

      My mother, her sister , her brother, all had it. Am I next and my two cousins?

    • tim

      Gee..I have had most of these symptoms since I was 10! Really…ADHD although my wife says I just don’t want to sit still. So if I come down with Dementia….I’ll have a double dose. At least I won’t know it!..tim

    • Mary Ellen

      It is possible that your mother is depressed. Many patients with demetia also have depression. One form of depression is agitated depression, meaning that the person presents with agitation and irritation rather than sadness. The depression also makes memory, focus and concentration worse, in essence, making the dementia worse. If it is depression and she gets treated, her overall functioning may improve. Like post partum depression, physical conditions, including dementia, chronic diseases and many meds may put an older adult at an increased risk for depression. The 3 D’s for seniors are delirium, depression and dementia.

  • Joy

    well some of those symptoms my mother exhibits, but she is 80 and had a hard life, so what can one expect. What’s even scarrier is that some of those symptoms I can relate to and I am only 49. Can menopause cause some of those symptoms? I would rather it be that than dementia. Is there any medicine for someone my mother’s age and someone my age?

    • Pam

      YES! Menopause can cause these symptoms! I was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers at age 54. Dealt with this diagnosis for a year and my therapist finally sent me to a menopause clinic. My hormones were so out of balance it was causing symptoms identical to dementia. Today, at 57, my head is clear, I am driving and have gone back to work! Please have your hormones checked!!

  • Steise

    Aricept is a drug that is used in all stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, which slows down the progress of dementia. Look on Bing or Google. It’s the most well known of the drugs for these conditions.

    • Debbi

      I feel strongly that a very important behavior was left out. Those with Alzheimer’s often develop paranoid ideas. My father died of AZ 4 years ago and my mother is in late stages. I noticed a lot of paranoia with both of them and their doctors and care facility said it’s quite common. My father used to complain that the neighbor stole his newspaper…I found dozens of them under his bed. He thought people were breaking into his home in the middle of the night to steal his money so he hid his checkbook…it was a treasure hunt every day for me. My mom thought people were staring at her and talking bad about her behind her back. She too was afraid that people were stealing her money…she had none beyond her SS check every month. My dad was sure his medication was poison. It’s important not to make fun of your loved one if they exhibit this symptom…it’s far more important and kind to make them feel safe than it is to point out how silly or crazy their thoughts are. I’ve been dealing with this for 15 years and while I’m no expert, I’ve been around a lot of people with AZ as well as professionals and I’d like to take a moment to thank them all…once again….for the love and care shown to my parents and our family.

  • Cindy

    I lost my mother in 2008 to Alzheimer’s. She exhibited most all of the above. One thing I did not see mentioned. She seemed to have trouble following conversation especially in crowded rooms. We thought it was hearing so we bought hearing aids which were of no benefit. Do not invest in these type things until a neurology expert is consulted for tests.

    • Jewell M. Taylor

      My poor mother started showing signs of dementia in her early 70(s)! She became
      impossible to deal with overtime & couldn’t remember the names of her 3/children!
      She told me that I was Not her daughter because I was her Sister! She called my
      younger sister “Karen” which was the name of her late granddaughter killed in an
      auto accident @ the age of 19/yrs. Mama had a need to be “cooking” something on
      her kitchen range @ all times & I watched as she cut up a banana & put it into a
      pot of potatoes she was cooking! She absolutely refused to either take any medication or seek medical care when she became ill with pneumonia @ passed
      away @ age 85 .

      • james kallaher

        many schizophrenics exhibit the same behavior… it is very sad and hard to live with… I pray for all families involved like this

    • brenda

      omg am i in trouble with that one…same like grandma. i knew it. it just stinks that hubby acts afraid of me…

  • Judy jester

    My friend is 73.. She was always a little different but now she tells lies fairly regularly. She mostly unpleasant and will yell at me to make her point.
    She has expectations of her friends to help her but I am not sure I want to include her with other friends. She just moved back into town
    Do you think her lies and outbursts are a sign of an age related disease?

    • Jessie Olson

      Judy, its possible, folks with dementia often say things that are absolutely untrue and completely refutable. Sometimes, its like their brain is trying to fill in gaps in their memory but it can’t so it pulls pieces of past memories, thoughts, feelings, movies they once watched, books they read, anything really, and turns it into a new memory to explain what is going on around them. It makes complete sense to them but most of the rest of us realize its untrue.

      So, the answer is, maybe. Only a qualified medical practitioner can say for sure. Is your friend willing to go to the doctor to get checked out? Most elders aren’t. Particularly if they are experiencing dementia, there seems to be some element of paranoia associated with it for a lot of elders with this challenging condition.

  • Francisco

    I lost my mother 3 years a go, after dealing with the condition for 4. The most frightening thing is the inexperienced training of the doctors to diagnose this type of conditions. My mother exhibited most of the above, and one of the first signs not mentioned is that she started to lose many inhibitions she normally had. Also she started to be interested in wearing make up again, but sometimes it was exagerated. I hope this article help the family to treat better and diagnosethe condition in the early stages.

  • Donna

    I take care of my mother-in-law. She has broken her hip 3 times in the past year.She has been diagnosed with gait disorder,memory loss associated with
    dementia.She has good/bad days.The outburst are hard to understand when rational behavior goes out the door.Sometimes,you forget that you are dealing with an adult whose characteristics are of a child.I am constantly told that ”I am not her mother” .Decision making for a senior adult can be exhausting.The hardest part for me is that my grown sons do not understand why I continue to take care of her….

    • HELENA

      Precious Donna, God bless you….this is his plan for you, to take care of your mother in law, at the same time showing friends, family, and more , that this act of yours is expected from families , to take care of their own, along with godly help…trust me, you are going to be rewarded for your unselfish and kind help..you are being a role model to others, what god has mentioned in the 4th commandment..my prayers will be for you constantly, remember all of this is temporary, may god keep his arms around you, always

      • Christine Phelps

        This is crap. Do not ever tell anyone they are expected to care for a parent and will be blessed unless you are willing to step in and help them. I am taking care of my mother with dementia. I cry everyday not because I feel for her but because I am trapped with someone who does not like me enough to consider that when she won’t get up to go to the adult day program I have to stay home and can’t work, do the grocery shopping, keep my appointments or even take a walk. It usually comes down to my threatening to take her in her nightgown and she telling me how mean I am and that I would do that to someone who is sick. She is not sick. Her doctor has determined she just spends too much time in bed. I live in a rural area without many services. My friends are farmers who work 16 hour days. My brothers work full time far away and come as often as their vacation time and finances allow which means only a couple of times a year. You better believe it that when there is finally an opening in the memory care facility she is moving in.

  • babe

    a neighbor shows all these symptoms by being very iirritated over simple things refuses to buy groceries and eats out at the same places everyday she lends people money and then gets agrivated if they stop calling her but they do call her when they want more money including her very own son BUT she refuses to go to the doctor and says she is not delusional I feel sorry for her but she doesn’t think anything is wrong

    • Mary Farrow

      The elderly can be taken advantage of so easily, sadly family members are often the offenders. If you feel your neighbor is being abused (which includes being taken advantage of financially) you can report this concern to Adult Protective Services, you may report anonymously. Taking this step will also alert the agency that she is showing signs of self-neglect.

    • Shelia Pittman

      I’m a caregiver for 40 years, six years ago I use to say dementia wasn’t my strong areas, but I continued to pray for God’s will for me and continued patience and compassion, guess what those prayers were answered years ago, and with my love of hands on care, and the elderly, I find myself excepting. the most difficult dementia cases.I feel very Blessed to be doing what I love to do.

  • shelly

    Another thing this article did not mention was a change in sleeping habits. Both my grandmothers changed their sleeping habits. One slept very little and would roam around the house all night. The other would sleep a few hours at a time then want someone to get up and talk with them before sleeping a few more hour.

  • Mary Farrow

    This article centered on a very important topic, depression is common in the elderly but it is not due to being elderly. It is important for caregivers and family understand that so much has been taken away; ability to drive, friends and family passing away, difficulty completing the activities of daily living that we take for granted as well as health issues. It is my opinion that although G.P. do their best to treat the elderly, a Physician who specializes in geriatric care will provide the most successful treatment. Isolation, even when living with family can also add to the issues of agitation and depression. To those families proving care I would suggest researching ways to communicate successfully with someone suffering from memory issues and depression. There is a great deal of information online that can provide assistance. Support groups and of course the Alzheimer’s association is another valuable source of information and much needed support.

  • DarkStarAz

    Must have a donut!

  • Sara

    my mom started with some things around 82, memory-thought people were coming into apt., etc taking food, etc–then memory, getting lost, paranoia–could not use phone cards, pay bills, hygiene, no cooking–hiding everything. started getting lost driving–went into care home- at 87-was taken care of so well by staff–meds calmed her soo much..passed at 91 this past May….—was so very smart, always worked, used her brain, did exercises, walking, so that will not keep it away either folks–Miss her everyday—beautiful woman!

  • Julie

    I have finally had to disengage from my mother. She has always been difficult , very opinionated . If you don’t agree with her you are wrong and just don’t understand.
    She has always felt that my son is more hers than mine but the last 5 yrs she spends every second she can with him telling him I don’t love him and that I’m an awful person and that he will be sorry if he continues to have anything to do with me. My husband try’s to intervene and makes her back down, but she’s now to the point where she thinks people are out to kill her and she has told my father that he’s not allowed to have anything to do with me. How can a parent turn their back on their only child because their demented spouse tells them to?
    Life has been nothing but fight after fight with her and everyone just placate’s her so they don’t agitate her but then she thinks theres not a problem with her behavior. Her health is terrible so I have done my best to keep my parents with me to help them. They are 86&87. She’s blind and diabetic and my so called father has never had to do any part of running a household because she’s a control freak.
    Every time she gets mad she threatens to move away so this last go around was the final straw. We are looking to buy a house and they can move where ever. They don’t think they need help but they constantly do.
    This is such a horrible situation but my mental and physical Heath is suffering, I can’t continue to do this it serves no purpose. I know if she were on medication it would help but she’s is determined she’s not.
    I’m at my wits end.

    • Lorraine Freeman

      I would suggest you call social services and turn the problem over to them. Your mother sounds very defiant and she will simply continue to BE defiant. At some point in time you have to understand that she is what she is and there is nothing you can do about her personality issues.

      • D. Roff

        My mother would yell & swear at my brother who had moved back home to care for her. He would become very frustrated & yell back at her. One of their neighbors told me that he was going to call social services to report it until he heard my brother leave the house & my mother make the statement “Hah! Got him!” Sometimes they aren’t as bad as they appear. Pity the caretakers! They need support, too.

        • stressed out

          I am going through the same experience. I moved with my mom to help her with her health problems but it has been nothing but hell for me.. I have gained a ton of weight from the stress of living with someone who’s mental health is declining. She was always fearlessly independent and domineering and will not accept taking medication to calm her anxiety and fits. She forgets things and has become so awfully ill spirited. I am not in the process of finding a place to live because it has been way more than I can handle and its affecting my health. I throw in the towel, I tried caring for her but now she belongs in a place where doctors can assess her and force her to take medication if she gets to crazy on them. My heart goes out to you, No one knows or trully understands how it affects the ones who are directly caring for parents who’s mental health is declining.

    • Daniel Weegmann

      This must be awfully hard for you. Realize that you are not alone in this experience. Many others have walked where you are walking today. Accept the conditions as they are and continue to work on your own independence. I would suggest a simple exercise that may help. Every day find one thing that makes you thankful for your mother or father. You might concentrate on one or the other at first. Do this for a week or two. You may find the dynamics between you will improve as you focus on these aspects of the person with whom you are dealing at home. You might even want to try this with yourself first. There are many things to be thankful for and it will lighten your burden. You don’t have to change the other person but you will begin to see a change in your relationship. Take care of yourself and I hope you are able to find some peace. God Bless.

  • seniorsister

    10 years ago, when my husband and I moved to our lovely retirement home he became a different person, he slowly became mean, harassing, rude, threatening, stealing my jewelry, breaking my prized collectibles, refusing me joint resources, yelling, bulling, a very hateful person. He behaves in ways that are so violent and so upsetting with the name calling and use of expletives it is unbelievable. He will never behave in all those ways (except order me around and say nasty things) in front of anyone, and so I have to deal with a split personality also . I think it is dementia in its worst form. I deal with it by staying out of his way and out of the house as much as possible. I feel sorry for persons dealing with family members with dementia but at least they know what it is, and they are not afraid they are going to be killed in the middle of the night. (I do lock my bedroom door) I wonder if anyone out there has a solution or a way to get him evaluated.

    • YVETTE

      I want to Thank You for posting about your husband. What you said I haven’t found anywhere and I thought I was going crazy. My husband has become rude, interrupts me mid sentence, laughs at inappropriate times, says cruel hurtful things and when i respond to it, he says I need to go see someone because he’s not the problem. I don’t know how to take the way he says things accordign to him. I might go along with this, but we’ve been married over 25 years and he’s never talked to me the way he is now. He’s also getting aggressive. The other day I went into the kitchen to start dinner and to get away from him amd he came out and got within inches of my face to make a point. I had to take both hands, put them on his chest and push him away. I’m so sorry you’re going thru this, but tonight you’ve saved my marriage. I don’t know how much more I can take and i realize this is just the beginning of a long downhill slide.

  • Patsy Finn

    I am 73 and sometimes have difficulty finding words – is this a sign of dementia?
    I can still drive without getting lost. I have a bad back and legs and cannot exercise. I live alone, but have a lot of relatives in the area.

  • Yvonne Richardson

    Will taking pain medication over a period of years cause severe memory loss?

  • Sheila

    My mother’s first sign of dementia, looking back, was that she could not understand the buttons to push to make something work – the TV remote, the microwave, the CD player. The second symptom was her inability to understand math and financial concepts that had never caused trouble before – for instance, she was the family tax preparer, and then she couldn’t figure out standard deductions vs itemized deductions. We just got frustrated with her, thinking she was just being lazy. We didn’t know it was stroke-related dementia until much later. Look for anything that seems out of place and goes on for a week or more.

  • Vicky sassaman

    I think this an excellent article. I have gone through dementia and subsequent death of my mom. I. Am now dealing with what appears to be dementia with my mom in law and you substantiated my thoughts. Thank you.

  • Linda

    Some of these symptoms can also be caused by bladder infections which seniors are prone to. My mother accused her caregivers of poisoning her, couldn’t walk without tipping, sometimes just “locked up” staring at a wall, and was unable to put together more than 2 words. I thought she was entering stage 7. Cheer assisted living home director told me to have her doctor order a urine test, i had to argue to have the test but he relented and it turned out she had a bad infection which showed no symptoms — no fever, no pain, nothing. He prescribed antibiotics and 4 days letter she is back to her old self. I’m not saying it always is an infection but don’t rule it out. Also watch water consumption. Many seniors won’t drink much water because of incontinence. Dehydration can account for a lot of problems too.

  • Paula

    what about Lewy Body dementia

  • Ben

    Very interesting.

  • Dianne

    My mom is 91 and I have been her sole caregiver for 18 years. She has always been a hypochondriac and very mean. She has always lied on people and accused them of stealing. She went to bed 5 years ago and refuse to get up. I wait on her hand and foot. She only wants candy
    And junk to eat. She’s extremely abusive, but always has been. Now she is obsessed wit coins she saves and accused people if stealing them. Since she is
    Hated by everyone in the family and has no friends, there is no one coming in the house. She swears someone comes in at night and takes or moves things. I took her to the doctor AGAIN. he put her on antidepressant. She won’t take it. My question is it possible for her to have dementia and look at her doctor and put on this facade that she is just this sweet Little old lady and everyone treats her so bad. The ER told me not to bring her back because they never find anything wrong with her and Medicare will not cover all these nonexistent illnesses. I’m at my wit’s end. She will not even allow he health or an aid to help me.
    Bed 5 years

  • Bill

    Many of those symptoms happened to me so don’t be too quick to judge. What I have is Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. See your Doctor immediately.

  • Shelia Pittman

    Enjoyed this very much.

  • best teeth whitening

    I could not resist commenting. Well written!

  • Sandra

    At the age of 65 I retired and became my parents 24/7 caregiver. We had built a home together in 2000 and I worked until 2008. My mom had begun to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. My dad passed away rather suddenly in 2010 at the age of 92. My mom could not remember he had gone to heaven and at first I would tell her when she asked where he had gone; then she would grieve all over again. Finally I would tell her he had gone to see so and so and would be gone a few days. That would satisfy her. I took very good care of her, I loved her dearly. Everyday I would help her bathe or bathe her myself and would dress her real pretty with makeup and jewelry; she had always wanted to look pretty. Finally she lost her ability to walk and she became bedridden. Hospice came daily to bathe her. My sisters came to help me. We fed her, sang to her and with her, read her the Bible, looked at pictures with her. Her grandchildren came along with the great grandchildren. A crowd bothered her. She would get mad at times but as long as she knew she was safe and loved she was content for the most part. In January 2013, she began to fail. She did not want to eat any longer. Finally on February 11, she joined her beloved in Heaven. She was 89. When dad died in November 2010, they had just celebrated their 70th anniversary. What a legacy they left. We kept mom at home and we are so glad we did. She exhibited every symptom described in your article and one more that I did not see listed. She lost her ability to reason with anyone and it was a very telling symptom that hurt me very much at the time, but when I realized why, I forgot all the hurt to me, it was about loving her safely home. Thank you, Jesus.

  • Vicki

    I am beginning to believe my mother has dementia. She see her old dead dog walking through the house and is always seeing young and old relatives alike climbing in her bed. The worst part, beside her insistence to drive by herself. She has been busy assassinating my son, daughter-in-law, husband, and my character. I can’t stand to even talk to her on the phone anymore. She still reads 4-5 books a week and does crossword puzzles with ease however she is just not likeable. She does fall down a lot. And has had one stroke so far. Her husband died about 2 years due to a stroke. My mother was colder that a snake to him. USSSA refused to offer a policy for home care about five years ago, they were concerned she had symptoms that pointed toward a problem with AZ or dementia. I can stand this abuse!

  • ricky agnew

    what’s not mentioned in the article are the illnesses that can be mistaken for dementia..sleep apnea for example ,lack of sleep pr not enough oxygen to the brain can cause some of the same ssymptoms as dementia…stress can cause forgetfulness..many people mistake my mother’s forgetfulness and poor long and short term memory for dementia. if you EVER suspect someone of having dementia or alzheimers DO NOT rely on the diagnoisis of a medical doctor..a family physician is not qualified to do this diagnosis but ONLY a psychiatrist or psychologist,but certainly not a family physician…would you take someone you thought might be bipolar to be diagnosed by a medical doctor?? of course not.. the same is true of a person who might have dementia..do not rely only on a medical doctor for a correct diagnoisis

  • researching Alzheimer’s care

    So many stories of the amazing caregivers that do everything for their loved ones. Thank you to everyone for relating their experiences in the comments.

  • looking for answers

    This was very informative. My mom will be 80 in May and she has always been a kind person that never really spoke a lot . She is living with my son and his family and this past year she has started saying mean things to my grandsons and about others, she talks terrible or not at all to my daughter in-law who loses her patience with my mom. She has also started saying she grew up with people she sees on TV that are my sons age and is going through personal things of my son and daughter in-law when they are not home. She never wants to leave the house and gets confused easily. I am in the process of getting things ready to move closer so I can take care of her any suggestions would be helpful its very heart breaking hearing of her doing these things.

  • Annel Yarber

    4 of my aunt’s. And. Grandmother. Was diagnosed. With. Dementia. How likely is it that the niece. Or nephew. Willis. Have it

  • Regina Peterson

    I wasn’t aware that falling was a sign of dementia. My father is eating really weird and kind of acting weird and it has made me worried. They have lived with me for a year and they seem to have gotten much worse after retiring. Thanks for the warning signs.

  • Gina

    I have been paying attention for 30 years now people that tend to get dementia and not proving but Seems like all the ones I have known that get this do not lead active life styles. No exercise , not getting out in the sun very much, not saying these are bad things but I have watched my husbands grandmother go thru this 17 years worth, and my best friends mother in law and now my mother and they all have the same traits of not leading active lifestyles makes me wonder if this has anything to do with it! Very sad and hard thing for anyone to go through.

  • Reese

    Thanks for sharing this. Very informative. Let me just add that Dementia is a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning. Alzheimer’s is only one form of dementia.

  • Linda

    I’m currently 47 yr old. I was diagnosed at the age of 42 with stage 3 Lung Cancer.
    I do display many of the symptoms as well and I have been diagnosed with dementia. I’m not sure if my memory problems are caused by the cancer or the chemotherapy drugs, lack of oxygen or pain pills. My life has completely changed. I’m unable to work. I can no longer do many things I use to. I get very confused and frustrated with my life. I’ve gone to several different doctor’s and tried speech therapy, occupational therapy, biofeedback. I’m in counseling and see a psychiatrist for depression medication and a pain doctor for my pain management. I don’t know how to explain to people what’s wrong with me. Because I don’t know myself. I just know my brain doesn’t work right anymore. Because of my age I can’t find anyone to help me. I don’t know what to do. I forget the simplest of things like eating or going to the bathroom. When I last showered or brushed my teeth. What day of the week it is. People I have talked to or didn’t talk to. Everything I do takes me hours to do. I don’t get anything finished. I move from room to room starting things and organizing the same things over & over again. I don’t recognize the person I am now. Please Can anyone help me ?

    • Joan

      Make sure you get bloodwork done as it could be related to the lung cancer. . My mother had lung cancer and had hyponatremia – which is an imbalance of sodium in the blood. This caused dementia type symptoms.

    • John JK

      Hi Linda, I just read your post. I am going through many of the same things you mentioned. I am 45 and my doctors have not diagnosed me with dementia but I have all of the symptoms i just cant tell them about them. I cant get my words out, inside I am struggling pronouncing each word and can barely get through a sentence. My brain is broken, i say its like I am a dumb child now. I can’t effectively use my iphone without doing something wrong and then I just get more frustrated and hit it against the floor. But 4 yrs ago I was a C level executive overseeing technology. I feel like I am slowly slipping away and I am constantly crying inside not yet, I need more time, help me please, I beg you to help me please. But that’s were it stays. So write stuff down, if you think of something for the doctors run to where you have a list cause you will forget by the time you get there just like me. I so struggle with staying organized but I am making progress by forcing myself to stay put on one project at a time and not get side tracked. I will say its a very lonely place to be and if you ever need someone to talk to please reach back out to me. I am sorry you are going through this and I hope it will get better soon for you becasue you deserve it.
      All my Best
      JK

  • Brooke

    My papa, or, grandpa, started experiencing many of these symptoms. He started to have problems with his balance and he fell a couple of times as well. We were very concerned with his health and what other symptoms he may develop. Later, he developed Alzheimer’s disease. After months of contemplating how to get him the best care, our family finally decided a care facility would be best to give him the care he needs. We are actually taking him today to the care facility. I am sure it will be an adjustment for all of us but ultimately we know it really will be what is best for him.

  • linda

    Is there a connection between low IQ/learning disability and dementia? Our family have only really accepted mum has dementia very lately because she’s had many of these symptoms her whole life. My mum is86 years old now. We have lined up an appointment with a geriatric specialist – in 3 months time, the earliest we can get in Toronto Canada. – I’m sure he’ll put her on one of the drugs that may slow it down. But what caught my eye initially is that my mum has exhibited many of these symptoms for many years. How long can dementia go on? She has had impulse control issues her entire life and they are still a problem for her (and us all ;) She’s also had a learning disability, the most damaging is she lies about anything – tells you what she thinks you want to hear or something easily refutable … her stories are getting easier to catch lately but she has lied her whole life -usually to cover up some impulsive thing she bought or something she was ashamed of- and was quite canny. She never learned to or had a desire to read, says hurtful things without seeming to beware of it, but she’s been like this as long as I can recall. We just have a name for it now its becoming quite pronounced. I make her sound like a monster – and yes she is troublesome – but we also love her. How long does dementia last?

  • Katie

    I have a friend in her 60s-70s. She is very amiable at first (very huggy and emotional). People are hired to come help her around her property (feeding animals, cleaning) things start off good but within 2-4 weeks she has had a verbal confronation with them: Cursing at them, yelling them off her property. EVERY time she has accused them of stealing from her (mostly very little things of NO value. She can’t leave her place because people are watching for her to leave or no one can do things the way they’re supposed to be done. She has told crazy stories about her past, many of which have no proof of being true. Is she just eccentric or should I be worried about something more?

  • Lori

    my father is being cared for by a caregiver with adv dir auth, she along with my father are constantly making threats are me. I provide supportive care at night for emergencies free of charge for room and board. I am on the deed to the house, though other family members have borrowed money i am paying with my hide to care for a physically, and mentally demanding father. The care giver is getting paid under the table a hefty amount weekly, and providing medicare care service to another client when not at the house. I am given a minimal amount of cash which barely provides for gas and personal items, i e sanitary pads. What ever little funds i am left with i give to my daughter to assist in helping with 2 special needs children. I am a christian who believes the lord is testing me against evil.

    thank you for listening

  • Jim Tracy

    It can really make a difference to catch something like dementia early. It can make a huge difference to have that in place. The more you know, the more time you will have to try to prepare for it.

  • Angie

    My mom has NPD she is a compulsive liar and bully her behavior has cost me many relationships my career and home she refuses to go to the doctor and claims she’s fine .I used to work in geriatric medicine I know there is something wrong I give up because all she ever does is gaslight or twist the truth

  • Glenn Charles

    @yvonne Pain medications especially hydrocodone and oxycodone can cause dementia problems especially if over-prescribed…possibly also deafness.

  • Daelin

    In hindsight, it is very easy to see such behaviors after a diagnosis has been given. I did not know that walking and balance was related to dementia, but my grandfather started to struggle with walking after recovering from a bout of shingles in the eye. We attributed his bad balance to his eyesight, but he also progressively changed many other behaviors, a few of them are on your list. The funny thing is that instead of being more hurtful, my grandfather became uncharacteristically cheerful and flirty, even. I am afraid of the weight that it has put on my grandmother’s shoulders.

  • Lisa

    My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 65 but I think it started at 55…I was busy working with two kids did not see her every day and just thought that the memory loss was due to stress…it progressed to the point that she couldn’t find my house she wasn’t paying her bills everything in her life became such a total mess…by the time it was too late I knew and it was so tragic she went from this er to adult day care…strong vibrant woman to being almost childlike…I am a nurse and vowed to take care of her she moved in with me for 8 years 5 of which I was able to work part time and send her to a daycare then the last three years she got so bad she couldn’t go to daycare and I couldn’t go to work…so I stayed home to take care of her…what a mistake I ended up getting divorced and I have joint custody of the children and my mom is in a nursing home and has nverytho recollection of who I am…DO NOT DO what I did take care of yourself you cannot be superwoman everything will just fall apart…take care of yourself first and ASK FOR HELP I waited too long

  • Regina Gray

    My mother definetly had dementia or Alzheimer’s but never showed any of the above symptoms early in her desease

  • Need help

    Thank for your help god bless and thanks again

  • Marlene K

    My mother is 83 and suffers from Alzheimer’s. In addition to strange eating habits, being hurtful, and compulsive behavior, she also has poor personal hygiene, no short term memory, and gets very confused when a routine isn’t followed or she gets too much information at once. My sister and I have learned how to manage most of these symptoms but are continuously finding strange or unusual behavior on a weekly basis. The only thing that really helps is spending lots of time with the person and learning what works and what doesn’t. The other thing we noticed is the Alzheimer drugs do not work. As a matter of fact the side effects are so severe that we have taken her off them. This is a horrible disease that our medical insurance does not fully understand therefor it is difficult to get any help. I hope a cure can be found soon.

  • Mary S

    I also want to mention, from personal experience. I was experiencing some of these symptoms, and then my husband took me to the ER for fear I had a stroke. I was in the hospital for two days before they figured out I has severely B12 deficient. Please, before allowing anyone to just be treated for symptoms, have them completely checked for any vitamin deficiencies. Getting my vitamin and mineral levels where they belong made a huge difference. Anxiety, sleeplessness, confusion – all took a HUGE turn for the better.

  • nicole

    My 53 year old mother in law in has been exhibiting these symptoms, ALL of them….she is very repetetive in talking, same complaints every day, she will rewind the news to see something that was 30 secs she “missed” but rewind it almost the whole time it has been on, and evey other show she watches.. zones out while staring at you, but THROUGH you and looks like she is talking to herself under her breath, always looses things like her coffee cup she just made,. hates going out and makes excuses for loosing friends, has no perception of where she is driving, misses her exit to work some times, and other places as well, very paranoid about her money, does not trust the bank, internet, etc, afraid her identity will be stolen, like to where it is a complex, stays up till 2-3-4 am and sleeps through the literal 7 alarms she has set in 15 min intervals, to get up for work, they start at 6am and she doen’t get up till almost 8 having to be at work by 8:30am, whilr all 7 alarams are BLARING>>>>> It has been getting worse for the past 3 years and pretty fast…..She swears she is mesed up from a wreak she had 3 years ago, but refuses to see her doctor……

  • Wendy Fitzsimmons

    Dear Sir/madam ,

    My mum has been diagnosed with early stages of dementia 3 years ago and she hasn’t got any worse which is great . The only problem is that she really makes mine and my sisters life so difficult and also our partners . We feel so trapped and feel that we can’t get on with our lives fully . She can be a lovely woman at times but s is mostly difficult . I was just wondering if there is any other support out there as we can’t cope with this alone .

    Kind regard

  • Rona Lamont

    This article is so instructive. My mother had been diagnose with Early Onset Dementia and the first thing we noticed was her inability to sort her Xmas cards or keep up with who sent them like she had done every Xmas. Then she started having little hallucinations or disorientation upon waking from sleep or a nap. He memory actually tested REALLY WELL for 90 (80%) but her management and organization skill got worse and worse. Now she has trouble remembering how her TV remote works and things like that. She has heart fiberation problems, major balance issues and lots of falls. It’s very hard to watch your mother lose the skills she’s always had and for her to say hurtful things and understand why you’re upset.
    I recommend testing as soon as you see any of these signs because I fear I didn’t want to accept this was happening soon enough! A big regret … Now all I can do is help her as much as I can 24/7 and shield her from some very “uncaring” carers.

  • Ed Stack Sr

    People who seem detached from a conversation may not be detached at all. They just may be sick and tired of taking to “dumb” people. Some people may even display anger because the YOUNGER people they are talking with have difficulty being attentive to the conversation or perhaps because they show LACK of good Judgement. aging has less to so with dementia than people realize…..it could happen at ANY age. I am INTOLERANT of people who lie and who drink alcohol….does that mean I have a symptom of dementia or that I simply am disgusted with bad habits? Be succinct or be correct. Don’t generalize.

  • Rhonda Graves

    I have a suggestion for everyone whose relatives manage to act “normally” around other people: there are cameras that you can rent that are inconspicuous. Surely all of you have heard of the nanny cam that’s used to make sure a babysitter/nanny is telling the truth, isn’t beating the kids, etc. You can get a hidden camera in a teddybear, a clock, a clock-radio, a pen, a ladies’ wristwatch, or a button, among other things. It needs to be wirelessly connected to a recording device (for example, a computer or VCR/DVR). And check several places because prices vary. Amazon has pen cameras for sale for a little over $10. If nothing else, most cellphones can be set up to record, or you can make arrangements to call someone reliable who will record it for you. I hope I’ve given you all some ideas of how to provide evidence! Make sure no one else involved knows about your arrangements to record evidence because Aunt Ida or Cousin Jerry might tell Grandma that you’re planning to do it and Grandma might try to stab you with scissors or hit you with an iron skillet, from the things you all have said about the way people with suspected dementia have been acting. I have had personal experience with a father, a mother-in-law and an aunt who had Lewy body disease, Alzheimer’s and Alzheimer’s, respectively, so been there, done that, bought the T-shirt and wore it out. And one thing that separates Alzheimer’s from Lewy body disease is that an Alzheimer’s patient can remember things from 50 or 60 years ago or from their childhood while a Lewy body patient can’t recall things from that far back. For example, my dad (who had Lewy body) couldn’t remember his uncles’ names or where his family was from. My MIL and aunt could tell you about Great-grandaunt Pernella who went to California during the depression. Hope this helps someone.

  • Michele

    My mother in law is 68 and she will sit in a chair all day and read the bible she won’t eat very often but when she does its bread an water she won’t go to the doctors or take medicine she always thinks someone is out to get her she holds all her personal stuff like social security card and Medicare card old mail etc. In a purse she will sit on it so we can’t get it from her she thinks like the government is after her or someone is gonna sue her she sleeps sitting up in a chair with a sheet over her head she won’t leave the house won’t let you buy anything for her I notice she will pull her hair out or pick at her face even talk to her self won’t let my husband in the house when he goes there I no he is going to have a hard time to try to do power of attorney she won’t go no where talk to anyone or sign anything he is a only child she gets ssi she has not touch the money in 9 months even if we put her some where to get help she won’t even give him any information or her social security number I mean what do we do I felt so bad for him and the stress he is under it really sucks

  • jackie

    my mom is 80 years old she lives with me now and i am just trying to figure out if she is getting dementia or what , she is afraid of us leaving her alone, she stares at us . she fell and broke her hip and is dealing with that she is doing very well as far as that but i don’t know if the other problems are her just not wanting us to do anything or if there is really something wrong with her?

    • mostlynew

      Don’t be surprised when she accuses you of plotting to steal her money/savings. Very painful experience.

      • PewneMe

        Yup, happened to me too. My older brother told my 92 year old mother with dementia I had “dumped her” while she was in the hospital for four days and I wasn’t able to attend due to my own illness. He also convinced her I emptied her bank accounts and took everything she had. She stated this over a very pitiful sounding voicemail then asked “Are you going to bring me supper? As if I was starving her too. Now she is living with him as he is acting like a “trophy son”. She’s turned on me now, calls me up to scream in my ear with childish accusations that my brother told her. Funny how this happens. And here is a son who’s been absent most of her life. So now there’s a power struggle over the little bit of savings she has left. He contacts every authority who will listen to whine about me “not releasing mom’s money to him”. I feel so sorry for my mother because she doesn’t know he’s putting her into a care facility. She thinks she’s staying with him. (I’d say deep seated family resentments from a long time ago.)

  • Peterjo

    My father has been diagnosed with dementia. Now we have used the C-care service, which is a professional home care service in Toronto, where we live, and his nurse cared for him like a daughter. We felt that it would be better off in a nursing home and the doctors advised that too. Good luck to everyone in these difficult situations.

  • Hillary the Barking Dog

    I have balance problems which are due to spinal stenosis and arthritis in my back, I do not have Alzheimer’s.

  • Tiffany Domedion

    this explains so much! glad i looked it up!