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Dementia symptoms: When is memory loss a sign of the brain condition?


The Alzheimer’s Society stated that people can expect to take a bit longer to remember things once they reach middle age, from 40 years and onwards. This doesn’t mean they have dementia, though, but what does? In older age, it’s more common to get easily distracted and to find it more difficult to multi-task. “These changes are normal, but they can be a nuisance and at times frustrating,” said the charity.

Dementia, on the other hand, can “cause a significant decline in a person’s mental abilities”.

In order for a doctor to make a dementia diagnosis, a person’s symptoms must be “bad enough to significantly affect their daily life”.

Examples include problems with paying household bills, using the phone, managing medicines, or driving safely.

If a person has symptoms worse than what would normally be expected for a healthy person their age, but not severe enough to impact their daily life, a doctor may diagnose them with mild cognitive impairment.

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Mild cognitive impairment isn’t a type of dementia, but some people with this diagnosis will go on to develop the brain disease.

In terms of short-term memory loss and learning new information, an ageing person may forget people’s names or appointments, but remember them later.

A person with dementia, on the other hand, may forget the names of close friends or family.

Those with dementia may also forget who they took a walk with that day, while getting out to exercise during Covid restrictions.

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If you, or a person you’re concerned about, occasionally forgets what they were told, it’s not really a big deal.

However, if the same question is asked over and over again, such as “where are my keys?”, even though they’ve repeatedly been told where they are, it could be indicative of the condition.

Habitually misplacing things, such as glasses or the mobile, is normal when you can eventually retrace your steps and find the items.

Yet, if the glasses end up in the fridge, or the mobile ends up in the washing machine, it’s a cause for concern.

This is why it’s important to speak to your GP if you’re concerned about having dementia.

If it’s a loved one you’re concerned about, it might be helpful to attend a GP appointment with them.

This, of course, only applies if you live with them or are a part of their support bubble in the current climate.

For more details on symptoms of dementia, do take a look at the Alzheimer’s Society website.



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