Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Dementia early signs - video transcript

2-minute read

An early warning sign of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is memory loss. It is the most common presenting symptom. It is important to talk to your doctor if you notice any changes in everyday functions due to memory loss in yourself or someone else. Learn more about the early warning signs of dementia.

Video transcript


My mum's been diagnosed with dementia. I'm really scared I'm going to get it. What are the early warning signs I should look out for?

Professor Susan Kurrle

In Alzheimer's disease, the commonest presenting symptom is memory loss. People are not able to function normally, because they can't remember what they should be doing, or what they've just done. And it's short term memory loss. So you might be able to remember very accurately what you did 20 years ago, but you can't remember what you had for breakfast this morning. And if other people notice your memory problems, that is also a concern.

In vascular dementia, often they have problems with speech. Sometimes with behaviour. Sometimes with calculation.

In dementia with Lewy bodies, visual hallucinations-- vivid visual hallucinations-- are often quite common. And people can get quite stiff, and look as if they have Parkinson's disease.

In frontotemporal dementia, often it's behavioural changes. People start making really odd decisions about their life, about their money. And this can be the first sign of frontotemporal dementia.

If you notice any problems with memory in yourself, or in someone close to you, then it's really important you go and talk to your general practitioner. Explain your concerns, and ask him or her if they can examine you for that, because there are things that can be done.


I know my grandmother had it before she passed away. Am I at risk?

Professor Susan Kurrle

There is a slightly increased risk of getting dementia if a member of your family has it. But it's not huge. It's actually about 3%. So just because a family member has it, doesn't mean you'll get it, unless they got it when they were very young.

If a person with dementia is in their 40s or 50s, then you need to look for a family history of dementia, because there could be an underlying genetic problem there.

Watch the related video

Last reviewed: January 2016

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Are there any smoking cessation programmes which can help adolescents to stop smoking | Cochrane

Read more on Cochrane (Australasian Centre) website

Home - ANZCA

Read more on ANZCA – Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists website

Secondary breast cancer | Cancer Australia

Secondary breast cancer is invasive breast cancer that has spread from the breast to other parts of the body

Read more on Cancer Australia website

Dealing With Uni & TAFE When You Have Cancer - CanTeen

Your daily life and routines will change when you're dealing with cancer. Learn more and get information, help and support with CanTeen.

Read more on CanTeen website

Small and Oat Cell Carcinoma - Information & Support - CanTeen

Small cell lung cancers occurs when cancer cells form in lung tissue and include oat cell cancers. Learn more about causes and treatments with CanTeen.

Read more on CanTeen website

Cassie's Story - CanTeen Australia

In late 2013 I found out my Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. I know that without CanTeen's Truce program, I would have been a mess.

Read more on CanTeen website

What is Melanoma?

Melanoma occurs when abnormal cells in the skin grow in an uncontrolled way.

Read more on Cancer Australia website

Other Cancers - Information, Treatment & Support - CanTeen

Other cancers cover a range of uncommon and rare cancers and tumours. Learn more about causes, diagnosis and treatments with CanTeen.

Read more on CanTeen website

Prostate Cancer - Information, Treatment & Support - CanTeen

Prostate cancer is condition that affects the male organs responsible for semen production. Learn more about causes, diagnosis and treatments with CanTeen.

Read more on CanTeen website

Head & Neck Cancers - Information, Treatment & Support - CanTeen

Head and neck cancers are a broad range of conditions that often cause carcinomas. Learn more about causes, diagnosis and treatments with CanTeen.

Read more on CanTeen website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo