Recognising the signs of dementia

If you are concerned that you or a friend or relative has dementia, it's important that you talk to your GP.

Be dementia aware

Dementia has no cure and it gets progressively worse over time. However, early diagnosis can delay dementia's progress. It's therefore vital for people to be aware of the symptoms of this condition, so that they can consult their GP sooner.

Common symptoms

Symptoms vary depending on what type of dementia a person has and what stage their condition has reached.

One common symptom is memory loss. This could include problems remembering recent events, such as forgetting messages, or asking the same questions repeatedly. Medical advice is important, as memory loss is very common and may not be a sign of dementia.
Other symptoms may include:

  • Finding it difficult to organise or plan simple tasks;
  • Becoming confused in unfamiliar environments;
  • Difficulty in finding the right words;
  • Finding it hard to deal with numbers, including handling money in shops;
  • Forgetting about recent conversations or events;
  • Becoming slower at grasping new ideas;
  • Showing poor judgement, or find it harder to make decisions;
  • Losing interest in other people or activities;
  • Unwilling to try out new things or adapt to change;
  • Becoming depressed;
  • Noticing a change in personality.

On average, people with Alzheimer's disease live for eight to ten years after their symptoms start, although this does vary considerably depending on how old the person is.

Visit our Alzheimer's disease stages page for more information about the stage of Alzheimer's.

When should you see a GP?

If you or someone you know show symptoms, it is important to see a GP as soon as possible. A GP can provide an assessment to eliminate any other possible conditions with similar symptoms, such as depression or an underactive thyroid.

Talk about it

Dementia isn't often spoken about, just as cancer wasn't 20 years ago, but with media coverage, high profile support and growing support networks in communities, it's increasingly in the public eye.

If more people talk about dementia, we can become more aware and better understand the condition, should a friend or family member develop it in the future.

Visit our How is dementia diagnosed page for more information on diagnosing the condition.

For links to useful information, advice and support, visit our Resources for dementia page.

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