How dementia affects the brain

Here's a list of common symptoms caused by dementia:

  • Loss of Language – He may lose the ability to speak or comprehend language.  Care partners often fill in the blanks. You may be right some days but not others, frustrating you both.
  • Loss of Recognition – He may lose the ability to recognize people, usually in the order they came into his life.  Those who entered first, such as during childhood, are the last forgotten and   those who entered last, like grandchildren, the first.  As the disease progresses, your friend will only remember his remote past.
  • Loss of Purposeful Movement – Your friend will lose the ability to plan, sequence and execute the steps of a particular task. For example, when getting dressed, she may put on her pants on first, then her underwear.
  • No knowledge of your disease – “You don’t know that you don’t know.”  She is not in denial; she believes she has the same abilities as always. She lacks the insight to know she needs help and is more likely to resist care.
  • Loss of Perceptual Acuity –Your family member can experience hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there) or, more often, illusions (misperceiving what is there).   For example, clothes on a coat hook may be interpreted as a  person, particularly when shadows form late afternoon or early evening.
  • Loss of Initiative – While often mistaken for being “lazy” or “sleepy”, loss of initiative is  common  and  begins early. She may lose interest in participating in activities. For example, she may sit all day in silence with her chin on her chest, but if approached she makes eye contact and smiles.
  • Loss of Memory –  Your  fellow  resident  is  losing her  short  term  memory,  sensory memory,  long-term memory, habitual memory and unconscious memory.   She has no control over this. Awareness of her loss will vary day to day and moment to moment.


Last Updated: 11/08/2017