Confusion in Early Mild-Stage Dementia: 3 Helpful Insights

Memory loss in early dementia tends to come and go, like the interplay of shadows and sunshine. Losing clarity can be frightening and upsetting to someone with early mild-stage dementia because he or she is often aware, on some level, that it's the dementia rearing up.

Here are three helpful insights for when your loved one experiences one of these episodes:

1. Scientists believe that it's not memory loss but tangled-up memories that cause confusion. The brain can't retain new information, and a situation gets crossed up with past events in the mind. What you see isn't absentmindedness so much as true bewilderment.

2. Know that mental confusion can have many causes, not just dementia. Medications, delirium, alcohol abuse, dehydration, and depression are among the other causes.

3. What helps: Gently orienting the person as to place and time. Calmly providing cues can be enough to rejigger memory about what just happened. Be reassuring, because it is perplexing when it happens to you.


about 2 years ago, said...

To me... this was helpful, because I have tried to get the root of the misunderstanding and then that triggers my mother to be aggressive or violent towards me because, I suppose she feels I am challenging her, not trying to resolve the problem. I will need to adjust my approach to produce better results with her. Thank you.


over 3 years ago, said...

vision problems-e.g. macular degenerationcan also lead to confusion since not seeing small items ,such as things in the refrigerator can cause confusion -which is not necessarily mental confusion-advising the individual of the colors of items helps-such as red for ketchup.


about 4 years ago, said...

With my dad it has helped to gently tell him the truth of what is happening. There is more fear when you don't know what is going on. He also knows that he has to keep his mind and body active, so he keeps moving 10 min 2 or 3 times a day walking on the treadmill or the eliptical. And he is trying to take classes at the adult center to keep his mind as much as possible. I know it doesn't work on everyone but its helping him. My mom won't do these things i have to demand, ask, almost plead for her to get up off the couch and keep moving. But with her, i again tell the truth, "if you don't keep moving your body will forget how to". We are in early stages of dementia for both of them. I also work on their health better than my own. It is helping them.


over 4 years ago, said...

It is perplexing to the persons concerned. Why was it less common to early generations, I wonder.


over 4 years ago, said...

My mother is 94 and I run into this a lot with her. Today she was great. Sometimes she is like she is being stubborn, which is not her nature. So this helps keep me in line about it. Thanks for this article.


over 4 years ago, said...

Not stressing the person out by insisting that they remember. And the information that it's not memory loss, but tangled up memories.


over 4 years ago, said...

Dehydration is news to me, but I can easily see how that would result in my husbands case as his skin is very dry and scaly at times. I try encouraging him to drink more water and use lotions on the skin to help the itching that occurs with this dryness, but I am the one who has to put the lotion in his hands and give directions as to how to apply it (esp on his feet).


over 4 years ago, said...

My mother has these problems as dementia is raising its head in her life.


over 4 years ago, said...

Gently orienting the person as to pace and timeln. My husband sometimes gets very frustrated when remember something that he thinks he should know.


over 4 years ago, said...

My mom has experience some of that.expecially not knowing where she is.its gets to the point where ugly things is said.


over 4 years ago, said...

The coming & going of memory loss often gives false hope to the care giver. The good times allow you to almost convince yourself that it's not all that bad. But then, in the next minute, the confusion & memory loss raises its ugly head and you again realize it's for real.


almost 5 years ago, said...

true bewilderment describes a very frustrating situation not only for the patient but also for the caregiver. The other causes included dehydration ...I didn't know that.


about 5 years ago, said...

all of it


over 5 years ago, said...

It is so much better to be calm and try and help the one that is having a problem with their memory for sure some memory loss can be contributed to medications and depression also. It takes as much time to be kind as to get frustrated at someone who is having a problem with their memory.