This page is designed to help answer those dementia related questions you may have. It is a quick reference guide to common questions that people ask. This page will be updated regularly.


What is Dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe various neurological conditions which damage brain cells and lead to a loss of brain function. The most common form of dementia is  Alzheimer’s disease which makes up 60-70% of cases.There are approx 120 different types of dementia.

Dementia is usually depicted  by a deterioration in memory and in a person’s ability to:

  • Carry out everyday activities
  • Make decisions
  • Understand information
  • Express themselves

Dementia can also impact on a person’s mood, personality, movement  and behaviour. Brain function is affected enough to interfere with the person’s normal social or working life.

What is the difference between Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia?

Dementia is in fact a syndrome, not a disease. Dementia is a group of symptoms that impact mental cognitive tasks such as memory and reasoning. Dementia is an umbrella term (like the word ‘cancer’) which has over 120 different types of dementia which are underneath it. Dementia can occur due to a variety of conditions, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease (approx 60-70% of cases in Australia).


Is Dementia a normal part of the ageing process?

No, dementia is not considered a normal part of ageing. When there is no underlying medical condition causing this memory loss, it is known as “age-associated memory impairment,” which is considered a part of the normal ageing process. Brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are different.

How do you get Dementia?

There are many different forms of dementia and each has its own causes.

Most people with dementia are older, but it is important to remember that not all older people will get dementia. Dementia can happen to anybody, but it is more common after the age of 65 years. Younger people (even as young as 30) can have dementia, this is called younger onset dementia.

How many people have Dementia?

In Australia there are currently 413,000 people with Dementia. A person is diagnosed with Dementia every 6 minutes in Australia. Worldwide there are over 47 million people with Dementia. It is expected that there will be 131 million with Dementia worldwide by 2050.


Are there more people with Dementia in certain countries?

58% people with Dementia are from low and middle income countries.It is expected that the majority of future increases will be in rapidly developing and heavily populated regions such as China, India and Latin America.


Can people have more than one Dementia at a time?

It is estimated that 10 percent of people with Dementia have more than one type at the same time, with the most common combination being Alzheimer’s disease with Vascular Dementia.


Do people with Dementia know they have the condition?

People with Dementia often are unable to reason, rationalize or comprehend the way they would normally. Their condition causes forming new memories to be restricted. If the person has progressed past the earlier stages of their dementia, then they do NOT know that they have a Dementia.


Is Dementia hereditary?

There is one rare form of Alzheimer’s disease which is passed from generation to generation. This is called Familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD). If a parent has a mutated gene that causes FAD, each child has a 50% chance of inheriting it.


A relative has Dementia, does this mean I am at greater risk?

Your risk of Dementia may increase if a parent or sibling has been diagnosed but the biggest risk factor is age.


Do more women have Dementia than men?

Yes. This is mostly because women tend to live longer than men and as Dementia becomes more common as we age, there are more women to develop the condition.


Is memory loss the only symptom of Dementia?

Many people associate Dementia with memory loss, but the condition affects people in a number of different ways. These may include changes in behaviour, confusion and disorientation, delusions and hallucinations, communication difficulties, ability to judge speeds and distance and sometimes food cravings. Everyone’s journey with dementia is completely different.


Does Dementia discriminate?

Dementia is a condition that can affect anyone regardless of background, education, lifestyle or status and is a global problem impacting on over 47 million people.


Is there a cure for Dementia?

How each Dementia is treated depends on its cause. With most progressive Dementias (eg Alzheimer’s Disease) there is no cure and little evidence that treatments slow or stop its progression. But there are drug treatments and strategies that may temporarily improve symptoms.


What is Younger Onset Dementia?

The term younger onset dementia is usually used to describe any form of Dementia diagnosed in people under the age of 65.Dementia has been diagnosed in people as low as their 30’s.Dementia in younger people is much less common than dementia occurring after the age of 65 and can be difficult to diagnose. There are currently over 25,000 people with Younger Onset Dementia in Australia.