Dementia symptoms usually develop gradually. Often the earliest signs are recognised in hindsight because they’re mistaken for signs of normal ageing.

The first signs of dementia may vary depending on the type. For instance, memory loss, apathy and depression are common early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, whereas impaired judgement and organisational skills are often early signs of vascular dementia. People in early stages of dementia with Lewy bodies will often display memory loss, sleeplessness and visual hallucinations. Frontotemporal dementia typically causes changes to personality, language and behaviour first.

Some common signs and symptoms. If two or more of these are affecting daily life, it may be time to see a doctor:     

  • Recent memory loss that affects job skills
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks
  • Problems with language
  • Disorientation of time and place
  • Poor or decreased judgement
  • Problems with abstract thinking
  • Misplacing things
  • Changes in mood or behaviour
  • Changes in personality
  • Loss of initiative

Dementia signs and symptoms