Symptoms and when to seek help
The symptoms of dementia can vary depending on the person, the type of dementia and whether they have an early, middle or late stage of cognitive decline. People living with dementia may experience a range of signs and symptoms, including:
- memory loss
- changes in personality
- confusion about time or place
- difficulty speaking, writing, and comprehending
- loss of emotion, interest and enthusiasm
- reduced capacity for decision-making
- difficulty performing everyday tasks
- irregular sleep.
The signs and symptoms of dementia may not be obvious. If you notice any changes that are unusual for you, see your doctor.
It is important to receive a confirmed diagnosis from your doctor. To diagnose you, your doctor will ask you to provide your medical history and may conduct:
- physical and neurological examinations
- cognitive and mental state assessment
- blood or urine tests
- specialist tests, such as a CT or MRI of the brain.
To learn more about the symptoms of dementia and how to receive a diagnosis, see the Dementia Australia website.
Currently there is no treatment available to cure dementia. Symptoms can often be managed, which can help people with dementia live meaningful and fulfilling lives after diagnosis.
Dementia management aims to maintain quality of life and improve a person’s ability to complete everyday tasks.
Non-medicinal approaches can help to manage the challenging behaviours of dementia.
Non-medicinal approaches include:
- psychological therapies, including cognitive behavioural therapies
- alternative therapies, including multi-sensory therapy
- memory training and activities
- changes to a person’s home or other environment to ensure it is dementia-friendly.
Medicines can often be used to manage the symptoms of dementia. Medicinal approaches aim to:
- improve memory, thinking, and sleep
- reduce delusions or hallucinations
- reduce depression and anxiety.
For more information on managing dementia, visit the Dementia Australia website.
There are a range of programs, initiatives and resources to support people living with dementia, their families and carers.
Living with dementia
- The National Dementia Helpline provides free support to people living with dementia, their carers and families.
- Forward with dementia features up-to-date information from clinicians and researchers and tools to help people living with dementia.
- My Aged Care provides information on accessing and navigating the aged care system.
Caring for someone living with dementia
- Carer Gateway provides free services and support for carers.
- My Aged Care features information on the different types of respite care.
- Forward with dementia offers tools and strategies for carers.
- Dementia Support Australia provides information, resources, and support for informal carers and health professionals.
Culturally and linguistically diverse communities
- Dementia Australia hosts a range of resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
- The National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) provides films on dementia prevention, detection and diagnosis. These are available in 9 languages, including Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Hindi, Tamil, Greek, Vietnamese, Spanish and Italian.