The most common early sign of dementia is memory impairment, mainly problems with remembering newly learned information (short term memory loss).
Other early signs of possible dementia can include problems with executive function (planning & reasoning skills), sudden disorientation in familiar surroundings, and negative changes in mood (depression).
Occasional forgetfulness is not the same as memory loss. Normal age related memory lapses include forgetting what you walked into a room for, and sometimes misplacing personal items. More serious memory problems could be an early warning of Alzheimer’s/dementia – see this description on age related memory changes for more detail.
Online Digit Span Memory Test
This well known memory test is used in many cognitive and neuroscience research labs. The Digit Span test can be a useful screening tool ( but not diagnostic) to test for possible signs of dementia and cognitive impairment.
Click the “New Test” button, then repeat the numbers shown in the box below. Normal performance is being able to remember 6 to 8 numbers in a row. Change the Span to increase or decrease number of digits.
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Other Dementia Test Resources
Worried about the memory health of someone close to you?
The Alzheimer’s-Dementia Memory Loss Checklist will send a report with important information on the possibility of serious memory loss and signs of dementia.
The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) Test is a standard paper-based test to screen for dementia.
Learn more about Short Term & Long Term Memory.