Dementia Care Site Map
Dementia Symptoms


Early signs of dementia

The early signs of dementia are often subtle and vague. Symptoms may vary from person to person and can include anything from being easily upset to taking longer to do things or even showing poor judgement.


Some of the early indicators suggested by Alzheimer's Australia include:


1. Memory loss that affects day -to-day function

It's normal to occasionally forget appointments or a friend's phone number and remember them later.  A person with dementia may forget things more often and not remember them at all.


2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks

People can get distracted from time to time and they may forget to service part of a meal.  A person with dementia may have trouble with all steps involved in preparing a meal.


3. Confusion about time and place

It's normal to forget the day of the week - for a moment.  But a person with dementia may have difficulty finding their way to a familiar place, or feel confused about where they are.


4. Problems with language

Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes, but a person with dementia may forget simple words or substitute inappropriate words, making sentences difficult to understand.


5. Problems with abstract thinking.

Balancing a cheque book can be difficult for anyone, but a person with dementia may have trouble knowing what the numbers mean.


6. Poor or decreased judgement

A person with dementia may have difficulty judging distance or direction when driving a car.


7. Problems misplacing things

Anyone can temporarily misplace a wallet or keys.  A person with dementia may put things in inappropriate places.


8. Changes in personality or behaviour

Everyone becomes sad or moody from time to time. Someone with dementia can exhibit rapid mood swings for no apparent reason.  They can become confused, suspicious or withdrawn.


9. A loss of initiative

It's normal to tire of some activities. But dementia may cause a person to lose interest in previously enjoyed activities.


(Ref: Alzheimer's Australia)


Early diagnosis - the benefits

Early planning and assistance

Early diagnosis enables you and your family to receive help in understanding and adjusting to the diagnosis and to prepare for the future in an appropriate way.  This might include making legal and financial arrangements, changes to living arrangements, and finding out about aids and services that will enhance your quality of life and that of your family and friends.  Early diagnosis can allow you to have an active role in decision making and planning for the future while your family and friends can educate themselves about the disease and learn effective ways of interacting with you.


Checking Concerns

Changes in memory and thinking ability can be very worrying. Symptoms of dementia can be caused by several different diseases and conditions, some of which are treatable and reversible, including infections, depressions, medication side-effects or nutritional deficiencies.  The sooner the cause of dementia symptoms is identified, the sooner treatment can begin. Asking a doctor to check any symptoms and to identify the cause of symptoms can bring relief to people and their families.



There is evidence that the currently available medications for Alzheimer's disease may be more beneficial if given early in the disease process.  These medications can help to maintain daily function and quality of life as well as stabilise cognitive decline in some people; however, they do not help everyone and are not a cure.  Early diagnosis allows for prompt access to medications and medical attention.


Health management

Receiving a diagnosis can also help in the management of other symptoms which may accompany the early stage of dementia, such as depression or irritability.  Also reviewing management of other medical conditions is critical, as memory problems may interfere with you remembering to take important medications such as for diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure.



Source: Alzheimer's Australia