Ten signs of dementia you need to know

Could your forgetfulness be a sign of something more serious?

A solemn elderly woman sitting on her bed dealing with depression

We all forget things from time to time, particularly as we get older – you might go into a room and not know what you went in for, or forget the name of a person you haven't seen for a while, or can't think of the right word to use. While forgetting things can be a nuisance, it's not usually a sign of dementia.

See also: Eight hidden signs of dementia

See also: People 'frequently misdiagnosed with common types of dementia'

A sign of something more serious would be if you pick up a tin opener and can't remember what it's called, or what you use the object for. Similarly, forgetting the route home from a place you regularly visit or the names of people you know well can be a sign of a problem.

If forgetfulness is affecting your everyday life or you are worried that your memory is getting worse, make an appointment to see your GP. Keep in mind that certain medications and medical conditions, including stress and depression, can affect your memory – so it's good to get other things ruled out too.

Here are 10 signs of dementia:

1. You can't recall what you had for breakfast or who phoned you this morning - but you can easily remember things that happened in the past.

2. You struggle to keep up with conversations or follow programmes that you usually enjoy on TV.

3. You regularly lose the thread of what you are saying.

4. You leave objects in unusual places (eg your wallet or purse in the airing cupboard).

5. You have problems concentrating and problem solving. For example, you may find it hard to follow a recipe and keep track of household bills.

6. You feel anxious, depressed or frustrated and find it hard to relax.

7. You feel confused even when you're in a familiar environment.

8. Others comment that you're repeating yourself or that you've already asked that question. They may also comment on the fact you no longer want to socialise or keep up with hobbies.

9. You become less steady walking and more prone to falls. Problems judging distances, on the stairs for example, and seeing objects in three dimensions, can also be an issue.

10. People with dementia can sometimes display personality changes - such as laughing at things which are inappropriate or taking risks when they're usually conservative. If people comment on your behaviour, or you feel you've made a faux pas but don't understand why, it could signal a problem.

Help and support
Alzheimer's Society encourages anyone who is worried about their memory or health to seek the support of their GP. Alzheimer's Society National Dementia Helpline provides a range of advice and support for people who are concerned, whether about themselves or someone else.

To speak to an advisor call 0300 222 11 22 or visit alzheimers.org.uk. You can also download a Worried About Your Memory Booklet.