Early on, 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. Memory loss tends to get gradually worse. People begin struggling with work. They may struggle with everyday tasks like paying bills or finding their way around. In later stages they may have difficulty dressing, bathing, walking or recognising family and friends.
To find out more about early signs and diagnosis of dementia read this short fact sheet.
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. It is important to get an evaluation rather than assume that you, or someone you love, has dementia. Symptoms of depression, stroke, infections, severe vitamin deficiencies, thyroid abnormalities and side effects of medications can all mistaken 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.