There’s a common misconception held by many people, that dementia is a normal part of the ageing process. Dementia is actually a condition that affects the brain.

Dementia causes cognitive decline in a variety of ways, including disruptions to memory, language, thinking and decision making.

Here’s how some of the symptoms of dementia are different to what happens as a part of normal ageing.

Memory loss

Man taking a break from tennis enjoying life

While memory-related changes can be part of aging. Memory-related changes that disrupt daily life are not typical of aging.

Normal forgetfulness includes things like forgetting where you put your car keys, forgetting an appointment or forgetting the name of someone you just met.

Someone living with dementia might forget what car keys are used for, forget the name of a family member or forget something that happened earlier in the day.


Language can be affected in people living with dementia, much more so than what could be considered a normal part of ageing.

As people get older, they sometimes have trouble remembering the right word, or may have to concentrate to keep up with conversations.

People living with dementia frequently forget familiar words and may have difficulty participating in complex conversations.

Decision making

Image of man and women walking and laughing in the park

Problem solving and decision-making skills can slow down or deteriorate as people get older, but in people living with dementia these skills are more affected.

As people age, they may become a little slower to react to things or need longer to think things through.  They may get distracted more easily when juggling multiple tasks. They might make the occasional error when dealing with their finances.

People living with dementia may have trouble concentrating, struggle with n problem solving and complex decision-making. This is especially the case when they feel hurried by others or pressured by the situation. They may display poor judgement when dealing with money and have trouble keeping up with monthly bills.

Dementia is a condition that affects the brain

Dementia causes a deterioration in cognitive functioning that does not occur in the natural process of ageing.

It’s very important that people living with dementia are diagnosed properly so they can receive the support they need.

Do you think someone you know might have dementia?

Speak to your GP or call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500, Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 8.00pm (except public holidays).