This week, the family of animal expert Jack Hanna, 76, announced he was retiring from public life because he had developed dementia. For fans of the former director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium—known for his many visits to the Tonight Show and Late Night With David Letterman, and his own shows Animal Adventures and Into the Wild—it was a shock to hear that his condition has deteriorated rapidly in recent months. Dementia refers to more than 100 conditions related to memory and cognition that prevent a person from functioning normally; Alzheimer’s disease is probably the most well-known. Read on to discover five of the most common signs of dementia. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.
Someone with dementia may experience memory loss related to recent or important events, names and places, where they left certain objects, and other new information. This is more severe or frequent than the forgetfulness that may happen with normal aging, in which a person might temporarily or occasionally forget a name or where their keys are sitting. “Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimer’s disease,” says the National Institutes on Aging.
A common early sign of dementia is the impaired ability to communicate. The affected person might have trouble finding the right words or finishing sentences and following directions or conversations.
A person with dementia may become lost in places that were previously familiar, like in their own neighborhood or on a frequently driven route. They may forget how they got there and how to return home.
Dementia may impair coordination or visual/spatial relations, causing an affected person to have trouble walking or maintaining motor skills. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, that can include having more difficulty with balance or judging distance, tripping over things at home, or spilling or dropping things more often.
A person with dementia may have trouble with reading, writing or complex mental tasks like balancing a checkbook, following directions, or making calculations. Familiar tasks, like paying bills or cooking recipes used for years, may become difficult, says the CDC. Contact a medical professional if you feel this is happening to you or someone you love, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to stay safe, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.