The Myths & Warning Signs of Dementia


Article by 

Maree McCabe

Confronting the Myths

Here are the most common myths which perpetuate misleading information and stigma about Alzheimer’s disease and the warning signs of dementia.

MYTH 1 “Dementia is a natural part of ageing”

Dementia is not a natural part of ageing.

It is a group of neurodegenerative diseases that affect both young people (younger onset dementia) and older people (those aged over 65). Dementia is a social and health condition, not just an aged care issue.

Dementia is the second leading cause of death of Australians and the leading cause of death of women in Australia.

MYTH 2 “Dementia is untreatable and cannot be slowed down”

There is no cure for dementia, but early symptoms can be managed by understanding its warning signs and a combination of medication and lifestyle changes.

Early diagnosis is important for successful treatment and extended quality of life.

Just as you would with heart disease and stroke, you can advise your patients to make life changes and include risk reduction strategies that reduce the likelihood they will develop dementia – the earlier, the better.

MYTH 3 “I’m not able to support a patient with dementia.”

General practitioners, general practice nurses and other health care professionals play a crucial role in assisting their patients to find specialised care, support, counselling and information.

Your advice, experience and ability to offer your patients services and resources about driving non-pharmacological treatments and advanced care planning is vital. So too is managing their medication. Referral to Dementia Australia is a great place to start.

MYTH 4 “Early diagnosis is not beneficial”

By recognising and understanding the symptoms and warning signs of dementia, general practitioners, general practice nurses and their primary care teams are in a prime position to empower their patients.

Early diagnosis is important to determine appropriate treatment needs for your patient and to help them plan for their future.

Furthermore, a timely diagnosis provides your patient with the opportunity to learn about their condition, understand changes as they occur and better plan for the range of day-to-day issues associated with having a cognitive impairment.

Health professionals can support people living with dementia, along with their families and carers, to achieve better clinical outcomes and a better quality of life.

An elderly person experiencing warning signs of dementia

Warning signs of Dementia

The early signs of dementia are very subtle and may not be immediately obvious.

Early symptoms also vary a great deal.

Usually though, people first seem to notice that there is a problem with memory, particularly in remembering recent events.

The early warning signs of dementia can include:

Memory loss that affects day-to-day function

It’s normal to occasionally forget appointments or a friend’s phone number and remember them later.

A person with dementia may forget things more often and not remember them at all.

Difficulty performing familiar tasks

People can get distracted from time to time, and they may forget to serve part of a meal.

A person with dementia may have trouble with all steps involved in preparing a meal.

Confusion about time and place

It’s normal to forget the day of the week – for a moment.

A person with dementia may have difficulty finding their way to a familiar place, or feel confused about where they are.

Problems with language

Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes, but a person with dementia may forget simple words or substitute inappropriate words, making sentences difficult to understand.

Problems with abstract thinking

Managing finances can be difficult for anyone, but a person with dementia may have trouble knowing what the numbers mean.

Poor or decreased judgment

A person with dementia may have difficulty judging distance or direction when driving a car.

Problems misplacing things

Anyone can temporarily misplace a wallet or keys. A person with dementia may put things in inappropriate places.

Changes in personality or behaviour

Everyone becomes sad or moody from time to time. Someone with dementia can exhibit rapid mood swings for no apparent reason. They can become confused, suspicious or withdrawn.

A loss of initiative

It’s normal to tire of some activities. But dementia may cause a person to lose interest in previously enjoyed activities.

Only a medical practitioner such as your local doctor or specialist can diagnose dementia.

If a firm diagnosis has been made, it is helpful to find out about dementia and the support that is available to help you manage.

For support, please contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500. An interpreter service is available and the Helpline is open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday excluding public holidays. Further information can also be found at

Blog Banner 786px x 300px
  1. I find these articles very informative but I have not read much on how to cope with a person with Alzheimer’s who does not recognise that they do have the disease. As I have read 80% of sufferers are in this category I would have thought more would be said about it. My partner does not think anything is wrong although has stopped doing many things like driving, using the computer and reading. She is about 6 to 8 years into the disease and on medication and still cheerful in the main and happy to mix with people but does not want to engage in dementia support groups. Having tried once to engage in a group for former professional’s she had no idea why she was there and took no part in the conversations.

Autumn 2023 Out Now

Autumn 24 Home Page Free DownloadAutumn Ipad (1)
Click to Download Autumn 2024

Ageing Well Expo Perth 2024


Friday 2 & Saturday 3 August 2024 

CostOfCaring Shareimage
Facebook Version 500px x 400px
In Need of Support?

Carer Gateway is an Australian Government program providing free services and support for carers. Call Carer Gateway for support and access to services, Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm local time.

Assistance with accessing emergency respite is available any time, 24/7.

1800 422 737 

Friends & Partners

ImageCarers WA Secondary RGB