Memory loss can be part of the normal ageing process. While minor declines in memory such as occasional memory lapses may be common in older age, noticeable changes in memory and thinking, as well as changes in behaviour or personality, may be early signs of dementia.
Dementia is an umbrella term for a number of disorders that can affect the brain and the way a person thinks and behaves. It is thought to occur as a result of nerve cell damage within the brain. This damage interrupts the transfer of information between brain cells and, as a result, a person’s thinking and behaviour is affected.1 The main symptoms associated with dementia include memory loss, confusion, difficulties completing everyday tasks (e.g., managing finances), problems expressing language (e.g., naming family or friends), a decline in visual perception (e.g., giving directions), and changes in personality (e.g., being more irritable).2, 3
Age is the largest risk factor for dementia, with individuals aged 65 years and over being most at-risk of developing the disease. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which represents between 60 and 80% of dementia cases.4