Five dementia symptoms you should not ignore

Forgetting someone's name or misplacing our car keys can be upsetting. Are these dementia symptoms that signal the need for a doctor's evaluation? Is it time to seek testing for Alzheimer's disease?

Everyone's brain changes as they age. Normal brain aging changes the speed at which we can do certain activities but it does not change our fundamental ability to manage our daily lives. Forgetting names or misplacing keys are not dementia symptoms. There are many causes of memory loss.

Here are five behaviors to look for when determining whether to discuss memory loss with your doctor.

  1. Your family member repeats himself during the same conversation. He tells the same stories or makes the same comments again and again without seeming to be aware that he just told you the story. He has trouble remembering the answers to question that you have answered for him. For example, Your father asks you several times, a few minutes apart when you are leaving for his doctor appointment.
  2. Your family member has lost interest in activities that she used to love. For example, your mother has always loved to read and now rarely reads books or magazines.
  3. Your family member is having trouble completing every day tasks. For example, your aunt always balanced her checking account to the penny and now she is bouncing checks.
  4. Your family member has trouble finding the right word when speaking and often talks around missing words or substitutes an incorrect word. For example, your grandfather needs a spoon to stir his coffee and he says I know that thing that mixes the sugar...
  5. Your family member seems moody, easily upset or angered and experiences mood swings.

Many other conditions can also cause these five behaviors. If you start seeing the behaviors show up repeatedly in your loved one's day to day life, it's time to book an appointment with the family doctor and start investigating the causes.

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