It’s not unusual to have occasional trouble finding the right word or remembering where you put things. But persistent difficulty with memory and the ability to perform everyday tasks might be signs of something more serious.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a catch-all term for changes in the brain that cause a loss of functioning that interferes with daily life. It can diminish focus, attention, language skills, problem-solving and visual perception. Dementia can also make it difficult for a person to control his or her emotions and can even lead to personality changes.
According to 2023 figures from the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 6.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, though many experts say that number is probably higher. And its prevalence is projected to double by 2050. Globally, more than 55 million people have dementia, the World Health Organization estimates.
If someone is showing signs of dementia, it’s important to see a medical expert who can conduct tests and come up with a diagnosis. Several, often treatable, conditions — from common infections to a vitamin deficiency — can cause dementia-like symptoms, so it’s necessary to rule them out first.
If it is dementia, you’ll want to plan how you will manage care or pursue treatment, especially as the condition progresses.
10 warning signs of dementia
Here are some symptoms to watch for.
1. Difficulty with everyday tasks. Everyone makes mistakes, but people with dementia may find it increasingly difficult to do things like keep track of monthly bills or follow a recipe while cooking, the Alzheimer’s Association says. They may also find it hard to concentrate on tasks, take much longer to do them or have trouble finishing them.