Dementia Symptoms

Symptoms of dementia vary depending on the cause and the area of the brain that is affected.



Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition that destroys the connections between cells in the brain. Eventually these cells die, which affects how the brain works. As cells die in the outer layer of the brain—called the cortex—it shrinks, and the spaces in the brain get larger. The cortex includes the hippocampus, which is an area of the brain that helps new memories form. The damage to the brain eventually causes problems with memory, intelligence, judgment, language, and behavior. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of mental decline, or dementia, in older adults.


Memory loss is usually the earliest and most noticeable symptom. Other key symptoms of  can include:

  • Having difficulty recalling recent events.
  • Not recognizing familiar people and places.
  • Having trouble finding the right words to express thoughts or name objects.
  • Having difficulty performing calculations.
  • Having problems planning and carrying out tasks, such as balancing a checkbook, following a recipe, or writing a letter.
  • Having trouble exercising judgment, such as knowing what to do in an emergency.
  • Having difficulty controlling moods or behaviors. Depression is common, and agitation or aggression may occur.
  • Not keeping up personal care such as grooming or bathing.

Some types of dementia cause key symptoms:

  • People who have dementia with Lewy bodies often have highly detailed visual hallucinations. They may fall frequently.
  • The first symptoms of frontotemporal dementia may be personality changes or unusual behavior. People with this condition may not express any caring for others, or they may say rude things, expose themselves, or make sexually explicit comments.

Symptoms of dementia that come on suddenly suggest vascular dementia. or possibly delirium (short-term confusion) caused by a new or worsening illness.


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

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