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Warning Signs of Dementia

Certain problems can be warning signs of dementia. Talk to a doctor if you, a friend, or a family member has been having increased difficulty with any of the following activities:

  • Learning and retaining new information (forgetting recent events and appointments or frequently misplacing objects)
  • Handling complex tasks, like balancing a checkbook
  • Knowing what to do when problems come up (such as knowing what to do if the bathroom is flooded) and using good judgment (for example, showing a new disregard for the rules of social conduct and doing or saying things that are inappropriate)
  • Finding his or her way around familiar places, driving to and from places he or she knows well (for example, getting lost when walking or driving from the house to the store a few blocks away)
  • Finding the right words to say what he or she wants to say
  • Understanding and responding to what he or she sees and hears
  • Acting more irritable or suspicious than usual, or withdrawing from conversation and activity

A person who has one or more of these warning signs may need to be evaluated by a doctor.

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I didn't know anything about Alzheimer's before my mother and my stepfather developed it at roughly the same time in the spring of 2005. I was living outside of Portland, Oregon; they were living in Mission, Texas. They were 86 and 84, respectively. I had tried to talk them into moving to an assisted-living community in Portland previously, but they always said they were doing fine. So I was surprised when my mother called one morning out of the blue and said, "We need help." My husband and...

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By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Peter J. Whitehouse, MD - Neurology
Last Revised June 23, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 23, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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