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Attention/Concentration (lack of) | Common Signs

  • Is easily distracted
  • Begins tasks or activities but leaves them unfinished
  • Must restart a task from the beginning after an interruption
  • Does not resume an activity or task after an interruption
  • Has difficulty following the thread of a conversation
  • Loses their train of thought while speaking (e.g. trails off or doesn't complete sentences)
  • Does not stay on topic when speaking (e.g. switches from topic to topic)
  • Walks away or starts doing something else in the middle of a conversation or activity
  • Loses interest in a TV program or movie before it's finished
  • Has trouble following instructions or directions
  • Is prone to fixation (e.g. devotes all attention to a single idea or event)
  • Seems vacant; stares into space for periods or time
Attention/Concentration (lack of) | General Description

Difficulty maintaining attention and concentration begins to occur very early in the course of Alzheimer's disease and with Lewy Body dementia. This can be a problem for the person you care for at any stage of their disease, but typically will get worse as the disease progresses. As a result, the person you care for sometimes will have difficulty with conversation. They may lose their train of thought when speaking, they may walk away or they may start doing something else in the middle of a conversation. The person you care for may also have trouble completing activities. They may become easily distracted by noise, people, or they may fixate on another object.

As dementia progresses, and particularly as the frontal lobes become impaired, people with dementia can be highly distractible, meaning they have increasingly difficulty staying on task. This severely limits their ability to learn new things and perform tasks that they had performed competently in the past.

When attention suddenly becomes impaired, the person with dementia might have some underlying medical illness. That is because sudden changes in cognition , with inattention, is what happens with delirium, and delirium usually has an underlying medical cause (which is especially often seen in people with dementia as a side effect of medications).

In today's busy world, keeping track of symptoms can be a challenge to say the least. That is why we have developed SymptomGuideTM. By taking a more active role you can better understand how a symptom is affecting everyday life and you can communicate this knowledge with others involved.

See Also:
Symptom Library > Personality Changes > Interest/Initiative (lack of)
Symptom Library > Thinking & Judgment > Following Instructions
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Sundowning
About Dementia > Treatments for Dementia > Exercise
About Dementia > Types of Dementia > Dementia with Lewy Bodies
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Last updated January 13, 2019
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