What are The Symptoms of Dementia

Dr. Dean Foti, MD, FRCPC, Behavioural Neurologist, discusses the symptoms of dementia.

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Dr. Dean Foti, MD, FRCPC, Behavioural Neurologist, discusses the symptoms of dementia.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Dean Foti, MD, FRCPC, Behavioural Neurologist

Duration: 2 minutes, 59 seconds

Dementia can be difficult to diagnose, especially early on, because the symptoms often blend in with what is a normal everyday experience, especially as we get older.

So usually you look at the specific signs and symptoms that you may have, but they’re over a longer period of time, and then they start to interfere with your function. So it’s okay to forget somebody’s name, or briefly forget where you parked your car, that sort of thing is alright once in a while.

It’s more the continuous pattern of those symptoms and then they’re starting to affect how you function, that’s more meaningful when you see your doctor. So some of the typical symptoms people may have are of course memory difficulties, usually for short-term memories.

Typically it’s things like forgetting where you – forgetting recent things. So for example, things you did within the last few days, or last week, or upcoming events, whereas things in the distant past like 20, 30 years ago, are much clearer.

So, those remote memories are usually preserved. So it’s usually pretty surprising for a lot of families, because they’ll say “Well, you know, my father can remember everybody in his high school yearbook, but he can’t remember what we did yesterday." So that kind of a symptom of short-term memory problems is kind of more typical of dementia.

Other difficulties may be for example, significant word-finding problems, substituting the wrong word on a regular basis, for example, losing your direction, not remembering where you went or an area that you used to be familiar with, may be a sign that you’re having some symptoms of an early dementia.

Other problems could be, for example, behavioural changes, being much more irritable, being less interested in activities, so somebody who always wanted to do many things now has no motivation. So that is often another symptom of dementia.

So, things that you may see in yourself are that you’re having more difficulty with keeping track of information, difficulty with organizing yourself, and difficulty following through on tasks. And some people might notice that in their work or just in their day-to-day activities.

Often patients, they may have some awareness that they have these symptoms, but in many cases it’s the family that notices things first, and in fact are more concerned about it. So the things that we use as a measure of how concerning things are are if you see that the family has a much greater concern than the patient, that often is a more worrisome symptom.

So these are some of the symptoms you can look at, but there’s also a number of things you can do when you evaluate somebody to determine whether these are a more meaningful change. So we have a number of tests that we give our patients to try to figure out if there is a problem.

Presenter: Dr. Dean Foti, Neurologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Neurologist

Video Quiz ( 46 participated.)

Test your knowledge by answering the following questions:


Thesymptoms of dementia are often not noticed by the patient as much as the familymembers. 


Patientscan have short term memory loss, while maintaining very good long termmemory. 


Somepatients of dementia have behavioural changes and can become difficult or aggressive. 

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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