Dementia: Early Signs & How to Reduce Your Risks


Dementia: Early Signs & How to Reduce Your Risks

Written By: Sin Tze Ean Cyan (Clinical Psychology Trainee)

Verified By: Kelly Chan Jia Li, Clinical Psychologist (MAHPC(CP)00353)

Dementia is characterized by a range of symptoms affecting one’s cognitive abilities (e.g., memory loss, logical reasoning, judgement, and decision-making), behavior and mood. In simpler terms, dementia is a condition that affects the brain, leading to a decline in memory, thinking, and the ability to perform everyday activities.


Now, when you think of the term ‘dementia’, what comes to mind? I believe it’s common for most people to picture older men or women who often misplace their reading glasses or have trouble remembering everyday occurrences.

However, it might come as a surprise to you that whilst it is true that dementia is most common among those in their 60s and beyond, it is also possible for people as young as those in their 20s to begin experiencing symptoms of dementia.

Common Early Signs of Dementia
Memory Loss

The earliest sign of dementia is often forgetfulness, especially of recent events, conversations, and appointments. Someone showing signs of dementia may repeatedly ask the same questions or rely too heavily on memory aids such as phone apps, post-it notes and reminder alarms.

Difficulty with Everyday Tasks

In the early stages of dementia, individuals may experience struggles with previously familiar tasks, such as following recipes, managing finances, or completing household chores. At the same time, individuals may find it hard to concentrate or take much longer to do things than they did before. Learning new tasks or following step-by-step instructions may also become more difficult for them.

Language and Communication Challenges

Dementia can cause communication difficulties, such as difficulty finding the right words, forming coherent sentences, understanding conversations, or calling things by the wrong name. It may also become more challenging to express oneself or follow the flow of a conversation.

Confusion and Disorientation

Spatial awareness becomes more difficult, as dementia usually poses a challenge when judging distances or navigating familiar spaces. Individuals may also become confused about time, place, or familiar faces. Getting lost in familiar surroundings or having difficulty recognizing once-familiar landmarks is a common sign of dementia.

Impaired Judgment

Early dementia may manifest as poor judgment or decision-making, such as making impulsive financial decisions, neglecting personal hygiene, or engaging in unsafe behaviors.

Mood and Personality Changes

Individuals with dementia may appear to be behaving differently compared to their usual selves. They may become more irritable, anxious, or withdrawn. They may also get easily upset at home, at work, with friends, or in places that are out of their comfort zone.

Changes in Sleep Patterns

Disrupted sleep patterns, such as insomnia or excessive daytime drowsiness, leading to increased fatigue and daytime sleepiness, can be an early symptom of dementia.

Lowering The Risk of Dementia

Even though there is no one exact way to guarantee the prevention of dementia, there are steps that you can take to reduce your risk of getting dementia.

"Prevention is better than cure!"

Staying Physically Active

Regular physical activity is associated with a lower risk of dementia. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, such as brisk walking, swimming, or cycling. Physical activity can help maintain blood flow to the brain and encourage new brain cell growth.

Staying Mentally Active

Our brains need to be stimulated. This does not mean that you have to go around solving complex math equations every day or learning about Quantum Mechanics.

Simply engaging in mentally stimulating activities such as reading, puzzles, or board games can keep your brain mentally active. You can also learn a new language or musical instrument, do a crossword puzzle, or learn to bake a cake. Engaging in these activities helps with cognitive stimulation, which helps your brain stay sharp.

Staying Socially Active

When we connect with others and engage in meaningful social relationships, we obtain emotional support, companionship, and a sense of belonging, which can help buffer against depression, and loneliness. Positive emotional experiences have been linked to better cognitive function and resilience against age-related cognitive decline. Let’s maintain strong connections with family, friends and community members.

Maintaining a Balanced and Healthy Diet

We all know that eating well can prevent a myriad of health problems, such as diabetes or cardiovascular diseases. However, most people tend to forget that a balanced diet is also essential for cognitive functioning. Food nourishes the brain as well, so make sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your everyday diet. Limit your processed foods and sugary snack intake, and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.


Quality sleep that involves a regular sleeping schedule and is of adequate duration (i.e., about 7 to 9 hours per night) can be linked to reduced risk of dementia and cognitive decline. Quality sleep helps with the clearance of brain toxins, memory consolidation, hormonal regulation, mood regulation, and regulation of our body’s immune system. Therefore, prioritize good sleep hygiene and address underlying sleep disorders (e.g., insomnia) to optimize cognitive health!

Reminder: If you or your loved one are having sleeping difficulties, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Soul Mechanics KD or Soul Mechanics Ipoh.

Remember, seeking help is not a sign of weakness but strength!

Managing Stress

Did you know that chronic stress can negatively affect brain health and cognitive function? Stress can have immense effects on cognitive functioning by impacting various biological changes in our body and brain. So, if you find yourself frequently stressed, try practicing some stress management techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi, or progressive muscle relaxation to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. 

Food For Thought?

Dementia is a challenging condition, but recognizing the early signs can make a significant difference in managing it. By adopting a combination of lifestyle modifications and healthy habits, you can reduce the risk of dementia and improve your quality of life. Remember, it’s never too late to make positive changes that benefit your mind and body. Therefore, if you or a loved one is experiencing any of the signs of dementia, it’s essential to seek support and guidance from healthcare professionals. Stay informed, stay active, and stay connected – your brain will thank you for it.

If you enjoyed reading this, why not broaden the horizon of knowledge by learning about "Self-Compassion Practices"?
You can read the blog here.

For more content related to mental health do follow us on our official Instagram @soulmechanicstherapygram.

Comment (1)

  • Rohini 5月 31, 2024 Reply

    This is a good article! I don’t exercise enough.


您的电子邮箱地址不会被公开。 必填项已用*标注