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Normal signs of Ageing versus signs of Dementia

Some of the early signs and symptoms of Dementia can often be mistaken for a normal part of ageing. For example, we all forget things, appointments, where we put the remote etc. Dementia is when the forgetfulness has a profound effect on daily life. This article will look at some of the changes that a person with Dementia could be experiencing and what normal ageing in that scenario would look like.

Its important to understand this is not a diagnostic tool and should not be used to look for signs of Dementia, in yourself or your loved ones. If you have concerned about symptoms you may be experiencing always speak with your GP.

Here we look at the 6 most common signs of ageing and possible indicators to Dementia.

Memory Loss

Normal age related: Forgetting names or appointments but able to recall them later. Forgetting something you’ve been told. Misplacing things from time to time but able to retrace steps and find them

Possible changes due to Dementia: Forgetting recent information, for example visitors that had been that day or the names of close friends and family. Another warning sign would be requesting the same information over and over. Or becoming heavily reliant on memory aides which weren’t required before. They may also lose things like keys, glasses etc but find them in unusual places for example, the fridge or washing machine. They may lose things and accuse others of stealing.

Difficulty planning or solving problems

Normal age related: Making occasional banking or financial errors. Needing a reminder on how to use the microwave or settings on the TV remote.

Possible changes due to Dementia: Becoming very confused or struggle with following a plan or number work. Having a lot of problems keeping track of monthly bills or making frequent banking errors. They may have difficulty following a much loved recipe or remembering the rules of a favourite game. They may also take increasingly longer doing things.

Disorientated with time or place

Normal age related: Losing track of what day of the week it is but able to figure it out later

Possible changes due to Dementia: May lose track of date, time and season. Forgetting where they are or how they got there and getting lost or disorientated in a familiar place..

Spacial awareness and visual images

Normal age related: Changes to vision related to cataracts or other changes in the eyes for example cloudy vision

Possible changes due to Dementia: Difficulty reading, judging distance and determining colour and contrast. They could experience problems with perception for example struggle to judge distance on stairs or understanding reflections in a mirror.


Normal age related: Difficulty finding the right word and needing to concentrate harder to keep up with a conversation. Lose the thread when multiple people are talking at once or you become distracted.

Possible changes due to Dementia: Experiencing trouble following or joining a conversation and regularly losing the thread of a conversation. Stopping midway through a sentence and unable to find the words to carry on or repeating themselves.

Mood and Personality

Normal age related: Developing set ways of doing things and becoming irritated when they are disrupted. Sometimes experiencing feelings of anxiety or low mood and occasionally getting tired and weary of work, family and social obligations

Possible changes due to Dementia: They may avoid social interactions, they can become confused, suspicious, depressed, become unusually sad, anxious, frightened or have low self confidence. They can become easily upset and irritable when in comfortable and familiar places , at home or at work.

If you or anyone you know have concerns about any symptoms you are experiencing always seek the advice of a medical professional.

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