Alzheimer’s/Dementia Awareness

Recognizing the Signs of Alzheimer’s/Dementia

Dean Benson


Recognizing the early signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia in a loved one is very important and challenging. Early detection can lead to better comprehension and management of symptoms, potentially slowing the progression of these diseases through lifestyle changes, medications, and support. Below is a comprehensive guide to spotting the early indicators of Alzheimer’s and dementia, tailored to assist you.

Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia

First, it’s important to distinguish between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory, reasoning, or other thinking skills. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60–80% of cases.

Early Signs and Symptoms

Memory Loss That Disrupts Activities of Daily Life

One of the most common signs of early Alzheimer’s is forgetting recently learned information, important dates or events, asking for the same information over and over, and increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for tasks they used to handle on their own. It can also encompass someone telling the same stories or items over and over.

Challenges in Planning or Solving Problems

Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may struggle to follow a familiar recipe, keep track of monthly bills, or have difficulty concentrating. Overall “forgetfulness” is also a symptom.

Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks

People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. They may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work, or remembering the rules of a favorite game. Forgetting to bathe, eat, drink, and do normal things. I remember my Mother had trouble taking meds, and remembering where the post office was.

Confusion with Time or Place

Losing track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time is another common indication. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes, they may forget where they are or how they got there. Sometimes they can remember items from early in childhood or adolescence, but not yesterday or even an hour ago.

Trouble Understanding Visual Images and Spatial Relationships

For some, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance, and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving. My mother even fell twice, breaking a hip each time, because she misjudged the sidewalk and her bed.

New Problems with Words in Speaking or Writing

People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves.

Misplacing Things and Losing the Ability to Retrace Steps

A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. I once found my Mother’s false teeth under her bed.

Decreased or Poor Judgment

Individuals may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

Withdrawal from Work or Social Activities

A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects, or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby.

Changes in Mood and Personality

The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, with friends, or when out of their comfort zone. Near the end, my Mother thought we were trying to “Poison” her with her eye drops for her Glaucoma.

What to Do Next

If you notice any of these signs in a loved one, it’s important to encourage them to see a healthcare professional. An early diagnosis gives them a chance to seek treatment and plan for the future. (And get you ready for what is to come)


Watching a loved one struggle with the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia is heart-wrenching. Recognizing these signs early on can lead to interventions that may improve quality of life. While this path is fraught with challenges, understanding and support can make a significant difference in managing the journey ahead. Always consult with a healthcare provider for a diagnosis and to discuss the best course of action.

Dean Benson, “The Dean of Rock & Roll” middays on the “Only Classic Rock” channel.

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Dean Benson

Loooong time married, 2 daughters, (I don't scare easily) On Air Personality Middays the "Only Classic Rock Channel"