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Early Signs of Cognitive Decline

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

Depending on the cause of the cognitive decline, symptoms can be variable. Since Alzheimer’s Dementia is the most common form of cognitive decline, one of the first signs to look for is difficulty recalling recently learned information. Common complaints by either patients or their loved ones include things such as:

  • Frequently losing items

  • Forgetting recent conversations and asking the same question repeatedly over time

  • Getting lost while navigating through frequently traveled territory

However, since multiple cognitive domains can be impaired, symptoms can range and vary. Here is a general list of signs and symptoms which might be suggestive of cognitive decline to look out for:

Memory impairment

  • Forgetting recent events

  • Frequently misplacing personal items like your keys or phone

  • Asking the same questions repetitively

  • Missing bills or paying them late

  • Missing appointments

  • Forgetting to turn things off like the stove or other household items

Visuospatial impairment

  • Getting lost and problems with navigation

  • Problems recognizing faces or objects

  • Difficulty locating items in plain sight

Language impairment

  • Difficulty naming things or retrieving words

  • Difficulty with comprehension of words and sentences

  • Making spelling and grammatical errors

  • More effortful and non-fluent speech

  • Difficulty with reading and writing

Executive function impairment

  • Having poor judgment

  • Difficulty with problem-solving and making decisions

  • Problems with multi-tasking and organizing

  • Lacking good focus and being more distractable

Psychiatric impairment

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Apathy

  • Hallucinations and delusions

  • Agitation

  • Poor impulse control

  • Loss of empathy

  • Being more disinhibited

  • Changes in personality

Other cognitive impairment

  • Difficulty with calculations

  • Disorientation in time and space

  • Difficulty using technology and devices

Remember- if you notice these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, don’t panic. Keep an eye out for our blog next week, where we discuss the next steps.


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