Signs of dementia


The dementia is a term for a psychiatric syndrome (that is, a group of characteristic symptoms), which is the most diverse degenerative or non-degenerative causes may be the basis.

The cause of many types of dementia has not yet been fully or only superficially clarified. With 50-60% of all dementias this is Alzheimer's dementia however, the most common cause.

Ultimately, dementia is characterized by a Impairment of social and professional skills from what is caused by an increasing disturbance of the emotional, social and cognitive functions. Language, motor skills, thinking skills and short-term memory in particular suffer from the disease.

Symptoms which are strong one depression are mostly the first signs a dementia disease. Then come in late stages too Personality changes and Disorders of behavior added.

For more general information on dementia, see our dedicated main article. You can find it here: Main article dementia

Frequency of dementia

How likely it is to develop one of the many forms of dementia depends above all on age.

It is known that the incidence of dementia increases with age.

  • Between 65 and 69, the probability is around 1%
  • with 76 - 79 years in about 6%,
  • and with 85 - 59 years at almost 24%.

Developing dementia under the age of 60 is very unlikely.

First signs of dementia

Depressive moods

The first signs of dementia are often right inconspicuous mental disordersthat strong one depression resemble, or can hardly be distinguished from depression.

Above all, this includes one Depressed mood lasting several months and associated with it a increasing joylessness.

Activities that used to give pleasure are no longer able to do this. In the further course, the changeability of the mood of those affected flattens, and one consistently depressed mood and the feeling of emotional emptiness determine the emotional experience.

Likewise, the person concerned is increasingly lacking motivation and interest, and sleep disorders increase, which is particularly evident in early waking despite general tiredness.

For more information, also check out our main article: Depression symptoms

Short-term memory disorders

A clearer and very important sign of dementia is short-term memory disorder.

Forgetting names or appointments is not uncommon. Temporary forgetfulness is common, especially with age.

However, if such problems occur frequently and events that occurred only a few minutes ago are forgotten, this can be an indication of dementia.

This can lead to situations in which, for example, it is not only forgotten that the pot is on the stove, but that it is cooked at all. Objects are often placed in completely inappropriate places, such as jewelry in the refrigerator.

At the beginning such a memory disorder is hardly noticeable to the viewer. A person suffering from dementia can often cover up slight memory disorders well at the beginning and therefore has an unchanged effect on those around him.

He succeeds particularly well when he used to have a lot of social contacts.However, the person concerned is increasingly dependent on writing notes, inventing excuses for mistakes made or vehemently denying them. Little by little, gaps in memory widen to include events that were long ago.

Read our articles on this Short term memory and Memory loss.

Local orientation

Everyone forgets the current date now and then or is wrong about the time - the time orientation is a relatively fragile construct.

It is different with the local and situational orientation; these are particularly stable in familiar environments.

Their loss is often a sign of a bigger problem, like dementia. It is increasingly difficult for those affected to find their way around a supermarket that they have often visited in the past, or they get lost in a part of the city they are familiar with and cannot find their way back home.

Furthermore, situations are often misjudged. This manifests itself, for example, in completely inappropriate clothing or the incorrect assessment of dangerous situations.

You might also be interested in: Symptoms of dementia

Disturbances of language and abstract thought processes

Another important sign of dementia are Disorders in usage.

Everyone has experienced isolated word finding disorders. However, dementia patients have difficulties even the simplest words to find them and to build them sensibly into sentences; instead use them circumscribing or completely inappropriate words.

Problems in solving more complex but everyday ones Tasks. This is expressed, for example, in the inability simple arithmetic problems solve or analog clocks to be able to read.

Personality disorders

Also typical for dementia diseases Changes in personalitywhich is usually a stable characteristic of a person.

This can be for one severe mood swings for no apparent reason. People with dementia also tend to have one unpredictable aggressive behavior and are very suspicious, even if they used to be kind people.

In the course of the disease it increasingly comes to social withdrawal and breaking off social contacts.


Aggression often has a trigger, even in people with dementia. The sick often feel helpless and misunderstood in their current situation. They often do not understand what is being asked of them, where they are and do not recognize their relatives and carers. Depending on the condition and stage, the sick often recognize their own mental decline from time to time and feel humiliated. This causes a certain amount of stress and anxiety in those affected, which is expressed through aggression. Depending on the location of the tissue breakdown in the brain, its loss can lead to massive changes in character, which can encourage aggression. In addition to dementia, there are often psychiatric changes. This means that the state of mind is also attacked solely by the changed metabolism in the brain caused by dementia. There is often depression, numbness or psychosis as a result of the breakdown of the brain and its metabolic status. In all cases it is possible to intervene and the emotional state can be improved with various medications, but also discussions.


Various other mental illnesses can occur as concomitant illnesses to dementia. It is often associated with depression, numbness, but also psychoses. These psychoses can be very diverse. Some of the people affected develop hallucinations or delusional thoughts. These hallucinations can either be seen, felt, or heard. In any case, they are the result of a disturbed metabolic situation in the brain due to degradation processes in dementia.


As a result of dementia, many people affected change their day-wake rhythm significantly. Therefore, relatives and caregivers often find a tired patient who may be wide awake at night and sleepy during the day. In addition, the brain degradation processes lead to a reduction in mental performance and therefore often to drowsiness. In addition, together with dementia, emotional changes such as depression or numbness are very common. It is not uncommon for patients to be lacking drive and appear tired. Here too, the patient can often benefit from therapy.

Read on on this topic:

  • sleep disorders

Other causes of dementia symptoms

If any of the symptoms mentioned above are observed, this does not necessarily have to be an indication of dementia.

A number of other psychiatric illnesses, first and foremost depression, as well as some drugs can cause very similar symptoms.

A more likely cause of poor memory is normal age forgetfulness. Above all, it is to be distinguished from dementia in that memory problems only occur temporarily and it is possible to remember most of the content through intensive reflection.

However, if you are concerned that you or someone else might suffer from dementia, you should definitely seek medical advice. Even the family doctor can use a few tests to determine whether dementia is likely or not.

Also read: The dementia