Feeling forgetful or confused? Finding out what is wrong is the first step to getting help.
Have you become concerned about increasing lapses in memory, or other changes in your thinking or behaviour?
Changes in memory and thinking have a number of possible causes that may include:
- Chronic illness
- Medication or alcohol
- Early dementia
Major changes in memory are not normal at any age and should be taken seriously. If you are experiencing these kinds of difficulties it is better to see your doctor sooner rather than later.
Talking to your doctor
There is no single specific test that can show whether someone has dementia.
A diagnosis is made by talking to you and perhaps a relative or friend to find out more about your difficulties with memory and thinking.
You will also need a physical and neurological examination which will look at all other possible causes.
During the visit
- Take your list of concerns with you. It will provide a useful basis for further discussion and tests.
- Talk to your doctor about your concerns honestly and openly, including how long you have been experiencing these problems.
- Bring a list of the medications that you are taking including the doses (or bring all your tablets in a bag). Don’t forget inhalers, creams and herbal medications and vitamins.
Remember, you can:
- Ask for a longer appointment.
- Take a relative or friend with you.
- Ask questions and request further explanations if you don’t understand.
- Take notes during the visit.
- Discuss the option of further assessment by a specialist.
The earlier you act the better
Your symptoms may not be caused by dementia, but if they are, earlier diagnosis will be helpful.
An early diagnosis means that you can have access to support, information and medication.
People with a diagnosis of dementia should have an opportunity to participate in planning the rest of their lives and their finances as well as indicating their wishes regarding future care.
"It was a relief to get the diagnosis, the worst was not knowing." - Fred, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease
"We are glad we had that early diagnosis as we have been given the chance to change our lifestyle activities to match my capabilities and to make definite plans for the future." - Maria, diagnosed with vascular dementia
"For me, the medication has helped a lot it’s lifted the fog." - John, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a general term to describe problems with progressive changes in memory and thinking.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.
Dementia can happen to anybody, but it becomes more common over the age of 65, and especially over the age of 75.
Early signs may not be obvious - only a doctor or specialist can properly diagnose dementia.
Worried about your memory?
A new booklet to find out about the signs and symptoms of dementia, when you should be concerned, how you may be able to reduce your risk of dementia and where to get more help.
Or download just the "Worried about your memory" checklist.
note: the presence of the changes in the checklist does not necessarily mean you have, or will develop, Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. See your doctor.
For more information and support call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.