Memory loss from dementia is quite different to occasionally forgetting things. Memory loss from dementia isn’t just occasional and it keeps getting worse. It may affect a person’s ability to work and carry out everyday tasks, which may eventually include how to dress, bathe, walk or recognise family members.

It helps to know what are probably just normal changes in the brain as we age and what may be linked to dementia. If you’re worried about your memory, go and see your GP, because depression, stress, the side effects of some medication, and other treatable conditions might be behind any memory loss.


  • An older person’s memories may sometimes be vague.
  • A person with dementia may forget all or part of an event.

Words or names

  • An older person might sometimes forget or have words or names that are on the ‘tip of the tongue’
  • Someone with dementia may progressively forget words or names, or use the wrong word for something.

Stories on TV, in movies or books

  • An older person is able to follow storylines.
  • People with dementia may become increasingly unable to follow storylines.

Written and verbal directions

  • An older person is able to follow directions.
  • People with dementia can become increasingly unable to follow directions.

Knowledge and information

  • Although recall may be slower, an older person can essentially remember information.
  • Over time, a person with dementia can lose known information such as historical or political events.

Everyday tasks such as dressing and cooking

  • Unless there’s a physical reason, an older person can perform these tasks.
  • A person with dementia can progressively lose the ability to do these everyday tasks.