Is Your Loved One Showing Early Signs of Mental Decline?

Is Your Loved One Showing Early Signs of Mental Decline?

We have shared a few potential warning signs below to help you evaluate if your loved one may be experiencing early stages of mental incapacity. However, with that said, not every decision your loved one makes means that his or her judgment or understanding of that decision is impaired. Experiencing one or two of the signs may not require emergency action or immediate concern. Early diagnosis gives you the opportunity to seek treatment and properly plan for the future, financially and medically. It allows you to take part in decisions about care, living preferences, financial and legal matters. We want our clients, their friends, and their families to simply be cognizant of the early signs in case action may be warranted.


  • Hesitation to state a complete thought or losing train of thought mid-sentence
  • Inappropriately timed responses, e.g. responding to a conversation you talked about hours before


  • Placing important items in weird places, e.g. car keys in the freezer
  • Getting lost in familiar places, e.g. the person’s own neighborhood
  • Forgetting the names of common objects
  • Forgetting loved ones’ names and relationship
  • Buying duplicates/triplicates of household items


  • Withdrawing from usual interest and activities
  • Consistent scrapes and dents in loved one’s car
  • Weight loss from forgetting to eat
  • Physical appearance disheveled


  • Experiencing rapid mood swings and depression
  • Anxiety and frustration in conversation
  • Unwarranted suspicion of others
  • Change in sense of humor; what may have been funny to the individual before, they may no longer find it funny and vice versa.

Also, take note of the condition of the upkeep of the loved one’s home. Dirty dishes, laundry, unpleasant smells, un-manicured lawn, and appliances out of service might indicate a loss of memory function and/or physical incapacity. The idea is to start the conversation early; open channels of communication and dialog. Incapacity is a difficult topic to address and the loved one deserves the utmost respect, dignity, and independence in breaching this subject.

Reference: Clark, Nicholas, et al. “Altered Sense of Humor in Dementia.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 111-119, 2015, published 09/24/2015.

Kristin Zeigler, CFP® is a Wealth Advisor at TrueWealth, LLC, a wealth management firm located Atlanta. She excels in providing impeccable service to her clients. She can be reached at or 404.487.0513.

Ashley Barba, CFP®  is a Client Service Associate at TrueWealth, LLC, a wealth management firm located Atlanta. She switched careers from marketing to wealth management due her love of financial planning. She can be reached at or 404.487.0524.

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