Symptoms of dementia vary significantly between individuals, and depend on the cause and the area of the brain that is affected as well. There is no one characteristic symptom of dementia. There are many different symptoms and a person affected by dementia have some (but not all) of these symptoms.
In many cases the symptoms may be subtle and go unrecognised for some time, where as other cases may have very obvious symptoms. Memory loss is usually the first sign of dementia. Initially the person has loss of short-term memory and later, all the aspects of memory are affected. The person may forget where kept an object just a few minutes ago or forget the name of an acquaintance.
Other symptoms and signs of dementia include:
- Having trouble or difficulty in recalling recent events.
- Forgetting familiar people and places.
- Having difficulty in finding right words to identify objects, express thoughts or take part in conversations
- Having difficulty in doing even day to day calculations.
- Having trouble in planning and carrying out tasks, such as balancing a checkbook, paying bills.
- Having difficulty in following instructions such as following a recipe, or writing a letter.
- Having trouble in making decisions such as what to do if food is burning on the stove, or if there is a puppy suddenly in front of the car while driving.
- Having frequent change of moods or behaviours. People with dementia are often depressed or may become agitated or aggressive.
- Not taking care of personal hygiene such as grooming or bathing.
Some types of dementia may have some characteristic symptoms such as:
- Dementia with Lewy bodies causes the person to have frequent highly detailed visual hallucinations (seeing things that are not there). They may see other people or animals that are not real and may develop a tendency to fall frequently.
- Fronto-temporal dementia may cause personality changes or unusual behaviour. People with this type of dementia may become less sensitive to other people’s emotions—this makes them seem cold and unfeeling. They stop caring for others, or may say rude things. They often lose inhibitions and hence may expose themselves, or make derogatory or sexually unacceptable comments.
- Symptoms of dementia may start suddenly in vascular dementia or it may develop gradually. They may also have stroke-like symptoms, such as muscle weakness or paralysis on one side of the body