What are the symptoms of dementia?

There are many symptoms of dementia, but declining memory is the major one. Other symptoms include communication problems, language problems, difficulty focusing and paying attention and impaired reasoning and judgment.

The symptoms of dementia include:

  • Trouble learning new things
  • Trouble remembering things that were known in the past
  • Trouble with abstract thinking
  • Poor judgment
  • Trouble speaking well
  • Trouble carrying out motor tasks
  • Trouble recognizing or naming objects
  • Personality change
  • Trouble being able to work or carry on a normal social life
  • Sometimes people with dementia also develop anxiety, depression, suspiciousness, assaultiveness, agitation, wandering, confusion or verbal abuse

These are some signs of dementia:

  • Intellectual function has declined from a previous level.
  • The person is aware and alert, which differentiates dementia from delirium.
  • More than one type of thinking is affected. In addition to memory, at least one of the following is also impaired: personality, abstract thinking, judgment, use of language, the ability to perform complex physical tasks or the ability to recognize objects or people. Known as global cognitive impairment, this characteristic distinguishes dementia not only from forgetfulness but also from such conditions as amnesia (memory loss only) and speech deficits (caused by stroke, for example).
  • The deficits in cognition are sufficiently severe that they interfere with a person's usual social and work activities.

There are several symptoms of dementia, and they all affect brain function. The most common of these is memory loss. However, just because you forget things, doesn't mean you have dementia. At least two of your brain functions must be affected. Other symptoms include difficulty communicating, changes in personality and disorientation, as well as an inability to problem solve, reason or learn new concepts. Dementia can also cause someone to behave inappropriately, hallucinate and become easily agitated. It most commonly affects the elderly.

Dementia indicates problems with at least two brain functions, such as memory loss along with impaired judgment or language. Dementia can cause confusion and an inability to remember people and names.

Dementia may also cause changes in personality and social behavior. A common form of dementia is called vascular dementia, which is an umbrella term used to describe a series of conditions caused by problems in the supply of blood to the brain, often as a result of stroke(s) or small vessel disease.

In this clip, Dr. Ronan Factora of the Cleveland Clinic discusses dementia and how warning signs or symptoms of dementia may not necessarily indicate that you are developing that condition. Check out this Discovery Health video to learn more.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.