Australian men live, on average, four years less than women. And while dementia is more commonly diagnosed in women, men are less likely to seek help to get a dementia diagnosis and support. Delays in help-seeking can compound issues, delay potential early treatment and therapy, and increase individual and family distress.
During Men’s Health Week, we encourage all men, and their families, to consider if they’re experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of dementia, and to seek a diagnosis and support.
Why is important to seek a diagnosis?
Early detection and diagnosis are important to increase the number of treatment and rehabilitation options and help individuals and their families adjust to the diagnosis and prepare for the future. Read about the strategies and treatments to help with managing the symptoms of dementia; supporting wellbeing and making plans and decisions.
What are the signs and symptoms of dementia?
Common signs and symptoms of dementia you may notice in a family member could include changes to:
- Progressive and frequent memory loss
- Personality change
- Apathy and withdrawal
- Loss of ability to perform everyday tasks.
Dementia in men can sometimes be noticed when they become depressed or withdrawn, when there is uncharacteristic conflict and aggression such as an altercation with a neighbour, or when there are difficulties/accidents when driving. Note that everyone’s experience of dementia is different. There is a lot of variability in the type and severity of symptoms each person experiences, and this may change from day to day.
If you think you, or someone you know, have the signs and symptoms of dementia, visit a GP as soon as possible to discuss the signs and symptoms. If you don’t have a regular doctor, you can find one by searching on Health Direct.
Read men's stories about their dementia diagnosis
Dementia and driving
For many men, driving is an important part of their life. Driving is part of being independent as well as a way of getting to places.
The quick reaction times, coordination and problem solving that are needed to drive safely deteriorate in all of us as we age, but more so in people with dementia. When men are told they have dementia, they often worry about whether they will be allowed to drive, or whether they should still drive.
Read articles on this website for more information:
Carers and families can also read: Supporting someone to stop driving.
Men’s Health Week focuses on not just physical health, but also men’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. Social expectations and traditional gender roles can prevent men from discussing or seeking help for their mental health problems. This may also be the case for men recently diagnosed with dementia. They may feel shocked and numb have difficulty adjusting to life with dementia. For instance, they may feel strong grief and loss and constantly worry for themselves, for their future, and for their loved ones. These feelings and thoughts may get in the way of participating in life right now. Working through these feelings can help them to get back to enjoying life again. For more information and support programs, read our blogpost: Emotional reactions to having dementia
Read men's stories about adjusting to their diagnosis
Men in the caring role
The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare estimated in 2021 that 386,200 people were living with dementia in Australia, including 243,200 women and 143,000 men. Given the higher rates of dementia among women, many men find themselves stepping into a supportive role for their mothers, partners, sisters or friends. Some men face challenges coming to terms with dementia and adapting to this new caring role. They may also have to take on new personal care and household tasks. It is important to seek help, and skills training if needed. Contact Dementia Australia for support and enrol in their Living with Dementia program. You can also download their help sheet: Help Sheets.