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Signs and Symptoms
The early signs of dementia can be subtle and not easily recognised. They might include memory loss, difficulties with carrying out everyday tasks, solving problems or changes in mood and behaviour.

At the earliest stages, dementia can be confused with the slight forgetfulness which is a normal part of ageing. Most people forget names or where they put their keys. With dementia, memory loss is more significant than forgetting things occasionally. It isn’t just occasional and it tends to get gradually worse. People begin struggling with work or everyday tasks like paying bills or finding their way while driving. In the later stages they may have difficulty dressing, bathing, walking or recognising family and friends. 

It is always a good idea to discuss concerns with your GP if you notice significant changes like the symptoms mentioned above. The symptoms may not be due to dementia and your GP can check that out. If they are caused by dementia, an early diagnosis has many benefits. Treatment can start earlier and you will get immediate support and information. It also gives people an opportunity to plan for their future.

Memory lapses don’t always mean dementia

Other medical conditions can cause similar symptoms to dementia so it is important to get an evaluation rather than assume that you, or someone you love, has dementia. Depression, stroke, infections, severe vitamin deficiencies, thyroid abnormalities and even side effects of medications can all be confused with dementia.

If you are worried about your own memory or changes in your day-to-day abilities, talk to your partner, family or friends and consult your GP. Many reasons other than dementia may be causing these changes. It’s always best to check.