You might be worried you have dementia. Or one of your family might be getting forgetful or confused, and you are worried they have dementia. Or one of your family might have dementia and you may be worried you can inherit it.
If you are worried about dementia for any reason, discuss your concerns with your doctor.
The early signs can be very vague and they vary from person to person. They can include:
- being vague in their everyday conversations
- losing enthusiasm for things they usually enjoy
- taking longer to do routine things
- forgetting people or places they used to know
- difficulties finding words and thinking
- changes in personality or behaviour
- finding it hard to follow instructions
- becoming more unpredictable emotionally.
Talk to your doctor
It's important not to assume a person has dementia even if they have these types of symptoms. Many things can produce symptoms that are similar to dementia, like strokes, depression, medicines, alcoholism, infections and hormone disorders. It's very important to see a doctor for a correct diagnosis – there may be good treatments to reverse the problem.
Expert advice - talk to your doctor about dementia
It is important to see a doctor if you are worried that you or someone close may be showing signs of dementia. Watch the video below and learn how you can start this conversation with someone.
More information about dementia
If it's dementia, then an early diagnosis is very important so you and your family can plan for the future and receive the help and support needed. There is evidence that the currently available medications for Alzheimer’s disease may be more beneficial if given early in the disease process. There isn’t one single test that can diagnose dementia; diagnosis involves a thorough medical history and a few different types of tests.
Not everyone who is older gets dementia. It's not a normal part of ageing and it doesn’t only affect older people. People in their 40s and 50s can develop dementia as well.
There are many types of dementia and each has its own causes. Some types of dementia can be inherited, but these aren’t common.
If you are worried about your risk of inheriting dementia, call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 and arrange an appointment with a counsellor.
While there is currently no cure for dementia, there are some treatments that might slow down the progress of the disease.
There are also other health issues that affect someone’s likelihood of developing dementia, such as heart disease and diabetes. So not smoking, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and being a healthy weight will all help.
Visit the Alzheimer’s Australia website to find out about other risk factors for dementia, including tips on how to reduce them.
People can also reduce the risk of developing dementia by looking after their brain health. Alzheimer’s Australia runs a program called Your Brain Matters. It provides information based on scientific evidence about how to be brain healthy. To find out more visit the Your Brain Matters website.
Last reviewed: January 2017