Early Detection Signs: Alzheimer’s & Dementia – Health Hint!

Jul 13, 2022

Federated Health Charities’ mission is to improve the health and quality of life of all Ontarians by supporting 21 different health charities providing critical services to those experiencing, or affected by, illness.  We believe education and prevention are key parts of supporting the health of our communities, so our weekly Health Hint series strives to provide tangible and easy to implement hints and tips on how to maintain your health, prevent disease, and enjoy increased quality of life.  Check out our latest Health Hint which is the fifth article in a new series called Early Detection.   This series will highlight some of the early detection signs for many of our 21 illnesses to work towards earlier diagnosis and more favorable treatment outcomes.  We hope you find it helpful.  If you would like to join our efforts to support the health of Ontario, please consider a donation to Federated Health Charities. 


Early detection of many illnesses can be difficult as it is challenging to identify when a feeling or behaviour is worth being concerned about or not.  It is easy to slough things off or convince yourself it was just a fluke and nothing to be concerned about.  What is important to remember is that, often, it isn’t about the severity of any one symptoms but rather the consistency of these behaviours.  When you begin to consistently experience unusual behaviours or feelings, then it is important to address these with your doctor.  Like many diseases, Alzheimer’s and dementia have a much better prognosis if they can be caught early.  Below we have outlined some of the early detection signs you want to be aware of.

1: Memory loss 

Particularly when it impacts daily activities.  This is the most common symptoms experienced.  This can include forgetting people’s names, forgetting appointments, not being able to recall details you previously knew, forgetting significant things happened at all, or asking for the same information over and over.  

2: Difficulty performing familiar tasks

This is when you find yourself no longer being able to complete tasks that you previously did with ease.  This might include forgetting how to make a favorite recipe, not being able to complete the steps of your nighttime hygiene routine, being unable to remember how to get somewhere familiar or not knowing how to play games you previously knew well.  

Busy people can be so distracted from time to time that they may forget to serve part of a meal, only to 

3: Communication challenges

This can include forgetting familiar words, mixing up common phrases, using the wrong words in sentences, calling people or things by the wrong names, or struggling to complete sentences.  

4: Confusion over time and place

This can include forgetting where you are or how you got there, going somewhere and not being able to remember why you went, not being able to recall the day of the week, or getting lost in familiar places.  

5: Lapses in judgement

This can include making abnormal financial decisions, not managing personal hygiene as you previously would, making reckless decisions, dressing inappropriately for the weather, or making dangerous decisions for other such as children. 

6: Losing things

This can include frequently forgetting where you put things, putting things odd places such as your keys in the freezer, not being able to retrace your steps to find where you left something, etc. 

7: Mood changes

This can include experiencing moods or behaviours that are out of the norm, experiencing sudden and quick shifts in mood, having feelings that don’t match the situation at hand, and beginning to struggle with strong feelings that you previously didn’t deal with such as depression, irritability, or anxiety. 

8: Changes in personality and social connections

This may look like notable changes in personality such as becoming very suspicious of people, easily confused, despondent, or uninterested in activities.  It may also include withdrawal from friends, family and social activities, loss if initiative and require regular support to become engaged in activities.  

9: Challenges planning and problem solving

This can include struggling to follow instruction or recipes, struggling to manage finances, inability to make sudden decisions, and overwhelm in the face of multiple problems at once. 

10: Vision changes

This can include difficulties reading the words on a page, having trouble judging distances, or finding lights to be too bright.  

If you are noticing any of these things, in yourself or a loved one, it is important to speak with your doctor immediately.  Your doctor can then determine the best assessments and tests to determine the root cause of these behaviours. 

We hope you enjoyed our latest Health Hint!

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email: sarah.wood2@ontario.ca


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