10 Personal Experiences that Reveal the Real Early Signs of Dementia

9 min read
10 Personal Experiences that Reveal the Real Early Signs of Dementia

For many people, dementia is, unfortunately, a topic that hits too close to home.

via Imgur

While dementia is not a disease on its own, it is associated with a wide range of debilitating symptoms that commonly occurs among the elderly. These symptoms include but are not limited to loss of memory and thinking skills and a reduction of a person’s general ability to do everyday things.

But what does dementia really look like when someone close to you has it? A Quora thread discusses it and many of the answers shed light on the real early signs of dementia.

1. She lost the ability to be spontaneous…

My mother in law had dementia and what I noticed first, she once had been an impeccable dresser and she started wearing sweatpants and tennis shoes. She also, had the exact same response to a comment or question. Using the verbatim phrase with same tone and inflection in her voice. She lost the ability to be spontaneous and creative in a conversation. She also was a highly intelligent woman who breezed through the New York Times crossword puzzle every morning. She stopped doing things that were once routine and part of her day. Her personality changed from one who was proper and polite to saying inappropriate things, almost childlike. – Helen Compton

2. He would often forget the right words…

One of the earliest sign of dementia that I saw in my grandfather was a subtle loss of short term memory. For example, he could narrate events that took place years ago but not remember what he had for breakfast. I also saw him struggling to communicate. He would often forget the right words and took a long time to conclude his sentences. – Audrey Throne

10 Personal Experiences that Reveal the Real Early Signs of Dementia | Stay At Home Mum

3. We noticed him losing interest in a lot of hobbies…

About ten years before he was diagnosed we noticed my dad, who was notorious for planning every single day of our two to three week summer holiday, stopped doing the planning. We arrived at our rented holiday home and realised he had no idea what we were going to do there. We always took it for granted that he spent months going to the library to figure out what local villages were worth visiting or what lake or mountain was worth driving three hours for. So when we asked him what he suggested, he simply answered”I don’t know”.

Over the next few years we noticed him losing interest in a lot of hobbies, including playing cards or going out to ride his bike.
The very traditional “forgetfulness” didn’t start until about 5 years ago, long after the problems planning everyday tasks and loss of interest started. Slowly he also developed speech problems (from not finding the right words to using the wrong words without him even noticing).

He’s 77 now and lives in assisted care because he no longer knows who we are or realises what “home” is, so he’s always searching for it. Physically he’s absolutely fine, which possibly makes it even harder. – Frances Joan

4. I noticed the increasing frequency of repeating the same discussion topic…

In the last few years of my father’s life I noticed the increasing frequency of repeating the same discussion topic in conversation. For example, he would ask how my son is doing. I would update him on my son’s latest news, and the conversation would move on. Then a few minutes later he would ask again how my son is doing without any recollection that we had just been through that. Another example is he would get in his car and start driving for an errand. After a couple minutes of driving he could no longer remember what the errand was and return home. Some days this could happen six or seven times for the same errand. – David Burke

via APlus


5. She lost touch with reality a bit…

My mother had early onset dementia. The very first sign was that she wanted to just drive around a lot and look at homes. She lost touch with reality a bit and kept claiming she was looking for a new place to live (she already owned two homes at this time). This was at a time where she was not in a position financially to purchase a new home. She also developed a few catch phrases that she used frequently. For example, she started saying “Bless your heart” in response to almost anything you said. It took us a while to realise she said this when she didn’t understand us and needed to reply with something.

When we took her to the ER for evaluation, the problem became more obvious. During triage at the ER, she could describe an object, but she couldn’t come up with the name of the object. Hold up a pen, and she would say you write with it, but she couldn’t say “pen”. Hold up a banana and she would say a fruit, monkeys eat them, yellow – but she couldn’t say banana. I think this was the first time that her spouse really understood that there was an actual problem. The overall impact of dementia can be hard to identify if you are around the person on a daily basis. It is a gradual change. – Jenny West

6. Before a formal diagnosis, we started noticing that she was forgetting things…

My mother-in-law was diagnosed with vascular dementia back in 2010. A year or so before receiving a formal diagnosis, we started noticing that she was forgetting things. This was before any personality changes. We visited at Thanksgiving in 2009, and asked her if she’d made her pumpkin pie recipe. She looked kind of funny and said “I have a pumpkin pie recipe?” This was a recipe she had made every year for decades. During the same visit I asked her about her gallbladder surgery (several years prior), as one of my friends was about to go through the same surgery. She looked at my father-in-law and said “I had my gallbladder out?” She also asked us over and over what we were doing for Christmas. During this visit was our first inkling that there was a serious problem, and she was diagnosed soon afterwards. – Emily Smith

10 Personal Experiences that Reveal the Real Early Signs of Dementia | Stay At Home Mum
via verywell


7. She would tell me that someone was coming in the house…

My mother suffers from vascular dementia. (There was) paranoia about EVERYTHING crept in little by little. She would call and tell me that someone was coming in the house and moving things around because they were getting ready for THE BIG HEIST – the day they were going to come in and really take everything. My sister and I explained to her that if these people were in her house moving things, then why would they wait to steal everything? She got an alarm system and did a little better on that subject.

Then the weirdest paranoid thing happened. She started claiming that the neighbour was jealous of her view of Mt. Chareston and had poisoned her well and that there were amoebas everywhere eating away at everything inside of the house so she refused to use the water. We had the well water tested just to prove to and to put her mind at ease but she wasn’t really listening. – Juanita Tool

8. She couldn’t get the wings oriented correctly…

My 86 year old mom always enjoyed crafts. We spotted a richly coloured butterfly on the grass, no longer alive. She took it in and arranged the wings on a piece of black velvet but she couldn’t get the wings oriented correctly. She became more frustrated with each attempt. Her final creation had one wing correct and the second one rotated by 90 degrees. She looked at me with tears in her eyes only to meet mine the same way. It was the start of a long trip away from whom she had been. – Kathy Satterfield

10 Personal Experiences that Reveal the Real Early Signs of Dementia | Stay At Home Mum
via Pinterest


9. My husband couldn’t process new information quickly…

For me, my husband couldn’t process new information quickly. Simple things like construction lane changes and detours. He once forgot where our local pizza place was located. These are very vague symptoms and that’s what it looks like in the very beginning. This was a man who worked for Sears and Best Buy doing the appliance repair in your home. I’m a nurse and had about 30 years of dementia experience. It took me almost 3 years to get his doctor to start treatment and it wasn’t the doctor. They can only treat what they can validate, not my perception and small initial changes. – Trudy Climer

10. The change became something she downright hated…

My grandma developed an intense fixation on eating chicken breasts. That’s literally the only meat she wanted us to cook for her!

After a while, her obsession with chicken breasts became even more specific and she only wanted them seasoned a specific way. If we suggested anything else she became irritated and started yelling at us.

Change became something she downright hated and would send her into a rage. It should be noted that my grandmother was not a nice person before the dementia set in, but when it did all the buffers and filters she had developed over the years disappeared. – Annissa Kida

10 Personal Experiences that Reveal the Real Early Signs of Dementia | Stay At Home Mum

Dementia is a severely debilitating condition, so we should know the subtle changes that we need to watch out for.

10 Personal Experiences that Reveal the Real Early Signs of Dementia | Stay At Home Mum

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