Loses track when giving directions

  All Alzheimer's Symptoms

When it happens

Begins in early mild stage; noticeable by the middle of mild stage

Why it happens

Giving directions, like giving a speech or having a conversation, requires paying attention -- and the attention system is often the first casualty of brain changes of dementia, even before memory loss. What's more, giving directions involves a complex set of steps to remember and retell. The teller often loses track of what's been said already.

What you can do

  • Let the person try, but step in gently with the correct directions once he or she becomes "lost" in the explanation.

  • Joke away awkwardness or embarrassment: "Sam never did have a compass in his head." "People like us are why GPS systems were invented!"

  • Assure the person the lapse isn't a big deal. It's not.