2. Preventing Dementia
  3. Symptoms are not limited to forgetfulness

Symptoms are not limited to forgetfulness

The general image of dementia symptoms is forgetfulness, but in reality, various other changes occur, such as becoming more irritable, becoming restless, etc.

These states are broadly divided into two categories: “core symptoms” that are common to all people and “behavioral and psychological symptoms” for which there are individual differences.

Note: Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia are abbreviated as BPSD.

Common changes

Impediments that are manifested in all persons with dementia. They serve as the criteria for diagnosing dementia.


An impediment that is seen at an early stage in dementia, where one is unable to remember new things. Patients are relatively able to recall things from when they were young and events in the past.

Understanding and judgment

When patients are told two or more things at once, or when someone speaks rapidly, it is difficult for them to understand. When faced with objects whose mechanism they can’t see, such as vending machines, bank ATMs, household appliances, etc., they become unsure of what to do.

Comprehending states

Patients are not aware of the current date and time, season, where they are, or what they are doing. They also do not know facts, such as how they are related to their family members, and that their parents have passed away.

Changes that vary among individuals

These are symptoms that arise in some people but not in others. They differ depending on the environment in which the patient grew up, and their personality.


The patient wanders around their house or outside. Oftentimes, the patient has a purpose, such as going to work or picking up their children from school.


The patient is convinced of things that are not actually true, such as believing that something was stolen. When someone loses something, normally they think they misplaced it and search for it. People with dementia, however, tend not to acknowledge anything that is disadvantageous to them.


The patient sees things that are not there. For example, they think there is a visitor and start making a cup of tea. They also imagine they are hearing things.

Acts of violence

The patient is unable to accurately convey their feelings, and resorts to violence as they cannot control their feelings.


The patient suddenly becomes anxious, or becomes excited and clamors in a loud voice, or becomes violent upon waking up in the middle of the night, for example. This arises due to hospitalization, high fever, sleep disorder, etc.


The patient becomes depressed and spiritless. They lose interest in hobbies that they used to enjoy.

Personality changes

Changes in personality arise. For example, patients who used to be calm become short-tempered.

Poor hygiene

The patient dislikes taking a bath, and also starts playing with their body wastes.

Reference: Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Policy Report Understanding Dementia

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