Early Onset Alzheimer's and Dementia

Signs and Symptoms of Early Onset Alzheimer's and Dementia

It's normal to occasionally forget where you left your keys or forget a person's name. However, it's not normal to lose your way in your own neighbourhood or forget how to do simple tasks like brushing your teeth.

When our aging parents begin experiencing changes in their mental state, it can be difficult and worrying to determine exactly what is happening. Sometimes those changes are part of the natural aging process. Other times, they may be indicative of early-onset Alzheimer's or Dementia. Being aware of the signs and symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer's or Dementia can help you determine if your loved one will need care and get them the help they need as early as possible.  Care facilities aren't always easy to get into, so the sooner you can identify it, the better for both you and your loved one.

This article will help you understand Alzheimer's and Dementia, as well as the common signs and symptoms of their early onset.

What are Alzheimer's and Dementia?

People often confuse the two, but there are distinct differences between them. While similar, Alzheimer's and Dementia disease are two different diagnoses that are both debilitating and can have a profound effect on a person and their loved ones. 

Alzheimer's disease is a type of Dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behaviour. It is a progressively degenerative disease, meaning it gets worse over time. The disease usually affects people over the age of 65, but it can occur in people as young as 30 as well. 

Dementia, on the other hand, is an overall term used to describe a decline in cognitive functioning. It is not a specific disease, but rather a group of symptoms that affect memory, language, problem-solving, and more. Dementia is caused by damage to the brain, which can be due to many different diseases or conditions.

Signs and Symptoms of Early-Onset Alzheimer's and Dementia

Below are some of the most common signs and symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer's and Dementia. While these are the most common symptoms, it doesn't necessarily mean that your loved one has the disease if they are experiencing one or more of them. However, if you notice a sudden or drastic change in any of these areas, you should consider consulting with a doctor to get a proper diagnosis.

Confusion and Disorientation

Confusion and disorientation are one of the more well-known signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. People with Alzheimer's and Dementia may become confused about time, place, or people. This can manifest as difficulty following conversations, keeping track of time, forgetting familiar words, or becoming lost in familiar places. People may also have trouble understanding or responding to simple questions.

Language Difficulties

Another early sign of Alzheimer's or Dementia is trouble with language. Your loved one may often repeat themselves, mix up words, have difficulty finding the right word, or they may use the wrong word altogether. Verbal fluency may decrease and they might stutter, pause, or have difficulty completing their thoughts more than usual. Difficulty understanding written text and spoken languages can also become an issue.

Poor Reasoning and Judgement

A loved one with Alzheimer's or Dementia may develop poor reasoning and judgment when it comes to decision-making, money, and personal care. This can look like impulsive decision-making, risky behaviour, uncontrolled emotions or inappropriate speech. As a result, they may find themselves in dangerous, or confusing situations such as wandering off without telling anyone where they're going, getting into arguments with friends or family members, and not being properly prepared for cold weather.

Changes in Mood and Personality

Significant changes in mood and personality are also common in early-onset Alzheimer's and Dementia. You may notice your loved one becoming withdrawn, depressed, or anxious and may also lose interest in activities that they used to enjoy. They may also act out in ways that are uncharacteristic and out of line with their usual self and may appear unusually apathetic. For many, the disease causes them to become agitated or aggressive, particularly when they are confused or feel threatened.

Changes in Sleep and Nutrition

Another sign of early-onset Alzheimer's or Dementia is changes in sleeping and eating patterns. Weight loss can be caused by a loss of appetite, trouble chewing or swallowing, or changes in metabolism. Your loved one may also lose interest in food, have difficulty preparing meals, or not realize that they are hungry. Sometimes, they just forget to eat altogether. Changes can include sleeping more during the day and less at night, or having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. 

Difficulty with Daily Tasks

As the disease progresses, your loved one may find they have increasing difficulty with daily tasks such as grooming, bathing, and using the restroom. They may also have trouble dressing, driving, or cooking meals. In some cases, they may no longer be able to recognize common objects or perform simple tasks.

Suspicions and Delusions

For many people with early-onset Alzheimer's and Dementia, suspicions and delusions are common symptoms. For example, they may believe that their spouse is cheating on them, someone is stealing from them, or that they are being followed. There is often no evidence for these beliefs,  but they can cause a great deal of anxiety and stress. In some cases, these delusions can lead to paranoia and aggressive behaviour.


Hallucinations are another common sign of Alzheimer's and Dementia. Your loved one may see, hear, or feel things that are not really there. For example, they may see people or animals that are not there, or they may hear voices. In some cases, these hallucinations can be quite distressing and may cause your loved one to act out. For example, they may try to swat at an imaginary fly, talk to someone who isn't there or reach for something they see in the distance. 


Cognitive decline is a normal part of aging. But if you are concerned, it's always best to speak with a doctor who can give you a more definitive answer. Early diagnosis and intervention can make an enormous difference in the quality of life for those suffering from Alzheimer's and Dementia.

We understand the challenges you are facing and we are here to help. With patience and understanding, Alivio’s downsizing solution can provide you with the support you need to downsize, pack, move and resettle your loved one. Our only goal is to make this transition as smooth and stress-free as possible for you and your family. Contact us today to learn more about our senior downsizing services.

Also Read: Prepare for Downsizing as a Senior