Everyone forgets things from time to time, but the memory loss associated with dementia is different. It becomes worse over time, and can eventually lead to forgetting how to do everyday things like getting dressed or having a shower.
Significant changes in memory are not normal at any age and should be investigated by a doctor as soon as possible. A medical diagnosis is important because there could be other reasons for these changes, such as:
The symptoms may not be caused by dementia, but if they are, an earlier diagnosis will be helpful since it will allow the person with dementia to get access to medication, support and information.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) occurs when a person’s memory loss is more significant than a memory loss associated with someone of the same age, but without the loss of other cognitive functions such as reasoning or judgement. Some people who have MCI go to on develop dementia, but others do not. People with MCI are 3 to 5 times more likely to develop dementia, but many people with MCI remain stable or even improve.
There is a simple Worried About Your Memory Checklist (PDF) that may be helpful. It’s not designed to diagnose dementia, but is a useful guide for discussions with a doctor about a person’s memory.
Visit the Alzheimer’s Australia website to find out more, or call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.
Last reviewed: January 2017