Dementia: The scale of the problem

Are you or a friend feeling forgetful?

Many of us notice that our memory gets worse as we get older, but it can be difficult to tell whether this is a sign of dementia. Seeking help early, however, offers the best chance of getting the right support, advice and treatment. The best place to go is to visit your GP.

Look out for problems:

  • Struggling to remember recent events
  • Forgetting the names of friends or everyday objects
  • Struggling to recall things you have heard or seen recently
  • If you regularly lose the thread of what you are saying
  • Leaving objects in unusual places (eg newspaper left in the fridge)
  • Find that other people start to comment on your forgetfulness.

Becoming forgetful does not necessarily mean that you have dementia. Many of us notice that our memory becomes less reliable as we get older. It can also be a symptom of stress or depression. In rare cases, dementia-like symptoms can be caused by vitamin deficiencies or other medical problems.

Even if the diagnosis is dementia, there is lots that can be done after diagnosis to support someone to live well with the condition. There are also now some treatments available that may be able to help with some symptoms. These drugs include donepezil and galantamine.

If you are worried about your memory, your GP may ask you a few questions or do a quiz called the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE). They may also want to do some other basic investigations such as blood tests.

For more information see the Alzheimer’s Society


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