Learn about dementia

Dementia is an umbrella term that describes several diseases that severely impact memory and thinking and interfere with daily life. There are over 100 types of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80% of all dementia cases. It is essential to know that while age is the top risk factor, dementia is not a normal part of aging. Learn more about dementia on the CDC website.


Conversations about dementia with family and providers are critical. Sharing our experiences ensures that everyone can age with dignity and support, making it easier to recognize signs early and develop a care plan.

There are some steps that people could take to promote brain health generally: 

  • Live an active lifestyle.
  • Support your cardiovascular health.
  • Manage your diabetes.
  • Control your weight and eat healthy foods. 
  • Protect your head and prevent traumatic brain injuries. 
  • Quit tobacco use and limit alcohol consumption.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Address hearing loss.
  • Stay engaged socially.

The best time to detect dementia is in the early stages. Talk about it if you or a loved one are experiencing signs of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, and see your health care provider to address your concerns. The earlier dementia is detected, the greater your opportunity to participate in planning for your care. 

Pay attention to how frequently you or a loved one is experiencing the ten warning signs: 

  • Memory loss that disrupts or interferes with daily life
    • Forgetting events, repeating yourself, or often relying on more aids to help you remember (like sticky notes or reminders).
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
    • Trouble paying bills or cooking recipes you have used for years.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure
    • Problems with driving places, using a cell phone, or shopping.
  • Confusion with time or place
    • Trouble understanding the weather and appropriate attire — like wearing a winter coat and snow boots during summertime — or inability to identify the time or day. 
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relations
    • More difficulty with balance or judging distance, tripping over things at home, or spilling or dropping things more often.
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
    • Trouble following or joining a conversation or struggling to find a word you are looking for. 
      • For example: saying “that thing on your wrist that tells time” instead of “watch”
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps to find something
    • Placing keys or wallets in the refrigerator rather than a coat pocket.
  • Decreased judgment
    • Becoming a victim of a scam (typically via phone calls or emails), not managing money well, paying less attention to hygiene, or having trouble caring for a pet.
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
    • Not actively participating in work, not wanting to attend social activities as usual, not having the ability to follow sporting events.
  • Changes in mood and personality
    • Getting easily upset in everyday situations or being fearful or suspicious.

Learn about the difference between signs of dementia and normal aging on the Alzheimers website.

Does your loved one show signs of dementia?

If you’ve noticed the signs of dementia in yourself or a loved one, it’s important to talk about it with your healthcare provider. Learn tips on starting the conversation.

Talk to your healthcare provider about your memory concerns. If you are on Medicare, your Part B benefits cover a yearly appointment called the Annual Wellness Visit, which includes a cognitive assessment that can help detect dementia. If you or your loved one is diagnosed with dementia, Medicare coverage consists of the Advance Care Planning Visit. Care planning allows individuals living with dementia, their care partner(s), and health care providers to discuss preferences, future of care, and wishes — in case they cannot later in life.

Explore tips from the Alzheimer’s Association about talking to your health care provider about memory concerns.

Why early detection is important
  • Noting the early signs of dementia means you can get the correct diagnosis. Dementia, or memory loss and loss of some thinking abilities, is sometimes caused by a brain disease such as Alzheimer’s disease. However, it is possible to reverse some causes of dementia, such as medication side effects or vitamin deficiencies.
  • There are treatments and medications available to treat the symptoms of some types of dementia.  These treatments work best when someone gets a dementia diagnosis in the early stages.
  • Knowing your diagnosis can help you, your loved ones, and your care team provide better care.
  • Finding out early if you are experiencing signs of dementia can help you and your loved ones plan for the future. You can build a care team, get support, and take part in decisions.
  • When we pay attention to the signs and discuss them, we can ensure every moment matters. When we talk openly, we can identify the actions we all can take to reduce our risk and support the quality of life for those who have dementia.

Learn more about the benefits of early detection and how to have the conversation

Care partners are the friends and family members who offer unpaid care to a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The diseases impact those living with them and those caring for them.

Care partners of people living with Alzheimer's disease and other related dementias experience worse health outcomes. 1 in 3 people report that their health has worsened as a result of caregiving, compared to 1 in 5 people who care for older adults without dementia. Their health and well-being matter, too. By ensuring they take care of themselves, they will be better equipped to provide care to their loved ones.


More information and resources

Bookmark this web page and check back in fall 2024 for more information and resources.