The normal signs of ageing or early signs of dementia?

Have you noticed changes in yourself or a loved one and are questioning if the changes are part of the natural ageing process or something more serious, such as dementia?

As we age, it is normal to see changes to our health, vision and sometimes memory, but there is a difference between the natural signs of ageing and early signs of dementia. Dementia is not a natural sign of ageing; it is a caused by a disease of the brain that causes damage to the brain. If you do have concerns and it is affecting daily life, it is important that you contact your GP as soon as possible who can help determine what’s happening.

Here are some comparisons between what the natural signs of aging and the early signs of dementia may be, although it is important to seek GP advice if there are any concerns at all.


We all have moments when we put something down, such as our keys, phone or wallet and can’t remember where we left them. Usually, we can retrace our steps, this is an example of a normal sign of ageing. If we are regularly putting items in unusual places, for example finding your wallet in the oven, or perhaps forgetting what the function of the object is or not recognizing it as belonging to you, then this could be an early sign of dementia and you should speak to your GP.

Has a loved one or friend asked you to do something for them and you have forgotten? That’s okay, we’ve all been there! But if you are forgetting something that was told to you very recently or repeatedly asking the same question or for reassurance about a task, this could be a sign that it is time to speak to a medical professional.

Mood and behaviour

Has there been a noticeable change in the mood or behaviour of yourself or a loved one recently? This is more of a tricky to identify, as mood changes are very normal, we all have bad days! Dramatic changes to mood and behaviour can also be caused depression, anxiety, and major changes in behaviour are not usually an early sign of dementia. A person with dementia may be easily upset by situations or places that they have previously felt comfortable with. Or become withdrawn, unusually sad, frightened, or low in confidence.

Planning and decision making

As we grow older, it is natural for us to be a bit slower in general, and when it comes to planning and decision making, we may find ourselves taking a little longer, and find it harder to do several tasks at once. If it is becoming noticeably difficult to stay focused on a single task, if you are getting very confused when thinking things through or making decisions without thinking them through (perhaps when it comes to finances) then this, potentially, could be one of the signs of early dementia.

These are just some of the potential differences between the natural signs of ageing and early stages of dementia. If you have any concerns about the wellbeing of yourself or a loved one, you should always contact your GP as early as possible.

If you have any questions about the changes of your own or a loved one’s behaviour, check out the Home Instead Bromley, Chislehurst & Orpington Dementia Workshop this Friday (30th June) at 10am at our offices in Coney Hall, West Wickham.  The event is free to attend. We have limited spaces available, so please contact [email protected] or call 020 8658 2535 to secure a place.