Early Signs of Dementia Checklist

Below we share an early signs of dementia checklist.

In today’s day and age dementia is quite common. So many of us find ourselves worrying about it. Worrying about a loved one who may have dementia. Or worried that they, themselves, are showing signs of it.

This checklist was designed to help you see if there’s reason to worry. And, as always, we try our best to lay the info out for you in plain English. First, however, let’s talk a little bit about dementia in general.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is not a disease. It’s an umbrella term used to describe a group of symptoms. Symptoms that affect memory, behavior, thinking, personality, and mood.

Dementia is the loss of mental function caused by different health conditions. Often, dementia affects the elderly. However, it’s not a normal part of the aging process.

It’s common for people to have concerns they, or a loved one, have dementia. But it’s not easy to tell. Only a medical professional can truly diagnose dementia. However, there are common signs you can look for that MAY indicate dementia.

Below we’ve put together an “Early Signs of Dementia Checklist”. This list shares 10 common signs to look out for.

Having one, or even a few, does not mean you have dementia. But the more you have and the more severe the signs are, the more we’d recommend seeking advice from a doctor.

Early Signs of Dementia Checklist

Memory loss

One of the most well-known and common signs of dementia is memory loss. And, memory loss, especially short-term memory loss can be a sign of dementia.

People with dementia may find that they have trouble remembering things. Especially things that happened recently. Things like what they had for lunch that day. Or forgetting an appointment. Or forgetting why you walked into a room.

As you age, you may experience some loss of memory function. Typically, age-related memory loss includes forgetting names and appointments but ultimately remembering them later.

However, forgetting things frequently and not remembering them later is a sign to seek medical advice.

Difficulty in Solving Problems

Trouble concentrating, problem solving and/or following a plan may also be an early sign of dementia. Some examples include trouble following instructions, keeping track of monthly bills or planning a meal. Difficulty working with numbers may also be an issue.

Again, occasional issues with these things are not a cause for alarm. It’s when they happen frequently that they may be a sign of dementia.


Seniors with early signs of dementia may often find themselves repeating certain behaviors. Examples include brushing their teeth or washing their hands.

Repetition in language can also be a problem. It could take the form of repeating a question they had just asked moments ago. Repeating stories they just told is another example to look out for.

Loss of Vision

Another possible early sign of dementia is changes in vision. It could be difficulty reading. Or judging distances. Also seeing color or contrast.

Getting Confused with the Time or Place

People who experience early signs of dementia often lose track of dates, times, or places. They may find themselves having trouble understanding where they are or how they got there.

Misplacing Things

We’ve all misplaced our keys or glasses or the remote from time to time. But those who suffer from early signs of dementia find themselves misplacing things frequently.

For instance, they put their stuff in an unusual place and often forget where they put it. And when they find them, they can’t remember how the item got there.

Difficulty Speaking & Writing

Another possible early sign of dementia is difficulty following or joining a conversation. For instance, you may find yourself stopping mid-conversation and forgetting what you’re about to say. Or you may repeat yourself.

Dementia can cause challenges in vocabulary, both in speaking and writing. You may forget specific words, even ones that are common.

Poor Judgement

Poor decision making or judgment is another possible early sign of dementia.

This could lead to bad money decisions. Or neglecting personal grooming and cleanliness habits. Another example here is not dressing appropriately for the weather.

Forgetting Your Normal Routine & Activities

All of us have different routines every day. But people who experience early signs of dementia may find it difficult to complete or remember their routine. This is especially true for tasks and routines that include several steps or sequences.

Frequent Mood Swings

The final sign on our checklist is frequent, rapid mood swings for no apparent reason. For some, their overall personality and behavior change entirely. You may also experience getting agitated quickly, increased anxiety, and restlessness.

What If You Have Some Of These Early Signs of Dementia?

As we said earlier, showing one, or a few of the signs in the above checklist does NOT mean you have dementia. However, if you or a loved one experience a few or more of them, it is best to seek professional medical help. And to do it sooner rather than later. Early diagnosis can help with treatment and care options.

More on the Signs of Dementia

This article is part of a series we’ve written about the signs of dementia.

The next article in this series is “What are the 10 warning signs of dementia?