Dementia is an overall term used to describe a wide range of symptoms associated with the deterioration of the brain which affects memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks.

The early signs of dementia can be very subtle and may not be immediately obvious. Early symptoms also vary a great deal.

Symptoms differ from person to person but can affect orientation, perception, understanding, memory, decision making, ability to learn, communication and judgement.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Confusion
  • Personality change
  • Apathy and withdrawal
  • Loss of ability to do everyday tasks

Sometimes people fail to recognise that these symptoms indicate that something is wrong. They may mistakenly assume that such behaviour is a normal part of the ageing process, or symptoms may develop gradually and go unnoticed for a long time. Sometimes, people may refuse to act even when they know something is wrong.

There are a number of conditions that produce symptoms similar to dementia. It is essential that a doctor’s advice is obtained at an early stage when symptoms first appear, to ensure that a person who has a treatable condition is diagnosed and treated correctly.

If you are concerned about someone’s memory, discuss your concerns with them and assist them to make an appointment with their GP.

If the symptoms are caused by dementia, an early diagnosis will mean early access to support, information, and medication should it be available.

Dementia NI member, John McErlane says, “My early diagnosis meant that I could make plans for my future.”


Read Allison's Story

Read Allison's Story

Allison was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in April 2017. Find out more about her story.

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