Unusual signs of dementia


The normal signs that a person has dementia is around confusion and memory loss.  So a person may be confused about the order that things happen in or where things go.  They can also forget things such as their bank PIN number for their card or people’s names that they don’t see often.


However there are some more unusual signs and however dementia is presenting, whether because of confusion and forgetfulness or something else, it always starts with something has changed.  Things can change for lots of reasons that are not dementia, so the diagnosis comes in part from eliminating the other things.


People can have a personality change and become much more obsessive or paranoid.  If they are obsessive, it can be about something that is out of character from their previous behaviour, so it might be that they become obsessive about their appearance or their garden, so are constantly mowing the lawn, so that the grass does not get too long, even a few millimetres change is something that they cannot cope with, so have to mow the lawn again.  It could be about looking smart, so their clothes need to be fresh and ironed and the tiniest stain will force them to change or throw away the item of clothing if it cannot be laundered.


Paranoia could take the form of thinking that everyone is talking about them or looking at them.  It might also be that their spouse is having an affair, if they are married, which can be tiring for the spouse to be subjected to and is potentially dangerous, if the person with dementia takes their upset about the purported affair too far.


They can also have some unusual physical health issues that seem out of place with the usual forgetting, such as problems with hearing or sight, like issues with spacial awareness.  People can either have changes to their sight or hearing, so they cannot gauge how to sit down, as they misunderstand how far away from them the chair is, so they appear to be clumsy.  They might also see or hear things that are not there, but hallucinating them, so could be responding to something that others simply can’t see or hear.


Whatever the signs are of dementia, it will start with something changing and the change will be permanent, there is no recovery, although the change might be fluid and when one thing has stopped changing, something different might change.  One of the aspects that defines the diseases of dementia is that they are deteriorating diseases, therefore the person with dementia will perpetually be in a state of change as the disease progresses.


I have provided lots of help and support for the journey of dementia in my book – Compassion with Dementia, available at Compassion with Dementia: An essential guide to living well with dementia: Amazon.co.uk: Cragg, Hilary: 9781914288180: Books