A question we are often asked is…

How do you tell the difference between general signs of ageing and the onset of Dementia, especially in relation to memory loss?

Here we will have a look at some of the differentiations between normal signs of ageing and when a professional’s help should be sought in relation to Dementia.

As we get older we may notice some (or all!) of the following:

  • Forgetting things;
  • Having difficulty remembering things as quick as you were previously able to;
  • Struggles with multitasking; and
  • Becoming easily distracted

In most circumstances, these are changes that occur as we get older and not necessarily something to be over-concerned with or that would lead to a diagnosis of Dementia.

Some of the common signs of Dementia are:

  • Memory loss;
  • Becoming confused;
  • Requiring assistance to complete tasks;
  • Difficulties with speech and language; and
  • Changes in behaviour patterns.

As you can see, some of the symptoms are similar, however, individuals with Dementia will display significant changes and have much more profound difficulties that continue to get worse as time goes on and as the Dementia progresses.

Some examples of the difference between normal signs of ageing and Dementia are set out below:


  • Forgetting things you were told/did a while ago
  • Misplacing things, forgetting where you have left something
  • Struggling to multitask
  • Occasional language issues or struggling to remember the correct word
  • Occasional difficulty in keeping up with large conversations
  • Confusing as to the day of the week but managing to work it out
  • Getting lost in a place that is unfamiliar
  • Occasionally feeling reluctant to attend activities and events
  • Becoming irritable when your usual routine is disrupted


  • Forgetting things you were told/did earlier in the day/previous days
  • Putting your belongings in unusual places, where you wouldn’t usually have kept them
  • Struggle to concentrate and focus on one task
  • Frequent language issues and remembering the names of objects / people
  • Difficulty in being involved in a conversation
  • Lack of comprehension as to the day, month or even the season
  • Getting lost in  familiar places (home/loved one’s home, local shops)
  • Becoming withdrawn from activities, hobbies and interactions with others
  • Becoming easily upset or angry when in an unfamiliar setting

Although the above give some great examples of the differences between ageing and Dementia, if you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, then speak to a professional – only a professional can give a Dementia diagnosis.

Everyone’s journey with Dementia is different and thus the signs and symptoms will be different and only you and your loved ones, those close to you, will know what is ‘right’ and when things should be checked out and may be a little more than the normal signs of ageing.