Normal Ageing Vs Dementia

Alzheimer's Society

How is dementia different from normal ageing?

Many of us get a little more forgetful as we get older. Most people will need a bit longer to remember things, get distracted more easily or struggle to multi-task as well as they once did. This may become noticeable particularly from middle age - usually taken as during our 40s, 50s and early 60s - onwards.

These changes are normal, but they can be a nuisance and at times frustrating. However, you may worry that these things are an early sign of dementia. It's important not to worry too much about this. For most people, these changes will be the result of normal ageing and won't be down to dementia.

What is dementia and what are the symptoms?

Dementia is the term for a group of symptoms that occur when the brain is damaged by diseases. This includes Alzheimer's disease or diseases of the blood vessels that can cause a stroke. These diseases can cause a significant decline in a person's mental abilities or 'cognitive function' - our capacity for things like memory, thinking and reasoning.

For a doctor to diagnose dementia, a person's symptoms must have become bad enough to significantly affect their daily life, not just be an occasional minor irritation. This means having new problems with everyday activities about the house, in the community or at work. For example, starting to have problems paying household bills, using the phone, managing medicines, driving safely or meeting up with friends.

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