Dementia or everyday forgetfulness


We all have moments of forgetfulness, like when you can’t quite remember someone’s name, and that frustrating feeling that goes with it or when you search the house for your car keys then you realise they are in your pocket. However memory lapses alone are not a definite sign that someone is in the early stages of dementia. Dementia has a number of symptom - not only does it impact memory, but also the performance of daily activities, and a person’s ability to communicate. No two people will develop dementia in exactly the same way and it is also important to remember that many conditions such as, stroke, depression, and infections can cause dementia like symptoms.

Here are the more common symptoms of dementia

Memory loss that affects daily life - While occasional forgetfulness is nothing to worry about, a person with dementia may forget things more frequently and not remember things from minutes or hours ago.

Difficulty performing familiar tasks - A person with dementia may continually have trouble completing a once-familiar or routine tasks, such as preparing a meal, doing the laundry or putting away cutlery. They may struggle to learn how to do new things or follow new routines.

Problems misplacing things - Misplaced objects could be a sign of dementia if a person places things in nonsensical or inappropriate places. Anyone can misplace their wallet or keys, a person with dementia may repeatedly put things in inappropriate places.

Disorientation of time and place - We all momentarily forget today’s date, a person with dementia may become confused about what time of day it is and what they should be doing at that time. They may have difficulty finding their way to a familiar place, or feel confused about where they are.

Changes in personality or behaviour – A person with dementia could exhibit rapid mood swings for no apparent reason, from calmness to tears or anger. As their brain changes, they may try to find ways to keep control and reassure themselves. From an outsider’s perspective they can seem illogical. They could become suspicious, defensive, obsessive or withdrawn.

Problems communicating- Dementia can impair a person’s ability to recall simple words. A person with dementia may use a word incorrectly, making sentences difficult to understand or they may have trouble starting or following a conversation.

Difficulty with executive functioning – Decision making, problem solving and judgement can be impaired due to the changes taking place in the front of the brain. A person with dementia may come across as confused, they may make bad decisions more frequently and have trouble thinking under pressure.

Changes in co-ordination and spatial awareness - A person with dementia may have difficulty judging distance, direction, or speed particularly when driving a car. They may develop balance or co-ordination issues.

Seeking help

If you are worried about a loved one who is displaying some of these symptoms then making an appointment with their GP is an important first step. For more information you can contact:

Dementia Auckland -  0800 4 DEMENTIA / 0800 433 636

Alzheimers New Zealand - 0800 004 001.

*Dementia Auckland. 2021. Signs and symptoms of dementia. Retrieved from

*Alzheimers New Zealand. 2021. 10 warning signs. Retrieved from

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