Understanding dementia: the signs

Kristy Minotte, Clinical Management Advisor for the Dementia Advisory Service (DAS) has provided specialist advice about understanding signs of dementia.

Despite a common belief, dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing. In fact, for every fifteen people over the age of 65, only one will be affected.

There are different types of dementia, with Alzheimer's disease accounting for up to 80% of cases.

Though common, recognisable dementia symptoms exist, each person living with dementia is a unique individual.

The best care starts with getting to know the person, and understanding that everyone has unique preferences for support and care. There are also cultural and personal histories and perspectives to consider.

Dementia develops gradually over time and early symptoms can include:

  • difficulties with problem-solving
  • inability to recall recent events
  • lack of interest in hobbies or tasks
  • confusion about time

By the time the stage known as mild dementia is reached, symptoms are more pronounced, and the person might need more help around the home, or getting out in the community. As symptoms progress, there’s a greater need for personalised care – and the importance of personalised care within a safe environment can’t be overstated

The senses – sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing – can become strongly affected by dementia. These changes impact a person with dementia's capacity to comprehend their surroundings and make decisions about what is going on and how to respond.

"The importance of personalised care within a safe environment can’t be overstated"

If you’re unsure about symptoms you or your loved one is experiencing, or have received a diagnosis of dementia, the Dementia Advisory Service (DAS) can help with information and support. You are welcome to call us on 1800 826 166 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This service is funded through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP).

To learn more about this service, click here or you can listen to our podcast.