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.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio