According to guidelines published by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, a person who has difficulties with one or more of the following activities should be evaluated for dementia:
- Learning and retaining new information - The person regularly misplaces objects, has trouble remembering appointments or recent conversations, or is repetitive in conversation.
- Handling complex tasks - The individual has trouble with previously familiar activities, like balancing a checkbook, cooking a meal, or other tasks that involve a complex train of thought.
- Ability to reason. - The person finds it difficult to respond appropriately to everyday problems, such as a flat tire. Or, a previously responsible, well-adjusted person may display poor judgment about social or financial matters.
- Spatial ability and orientation. - Driving and finding one’s way in familiar surroundings become difficult or impossible, and the person may have problems recognizing known objects and landmarks.
- Language - The ability to speak or comprehend seems impaired, and the person may have problems following or participating in conversations.
- Behavior - Personality changes emerge. For example, the person appears more passive and less responsive than usual, or more suspicious and irritable. Visual or auditory stimuli may be misinterpreted