Why do simple things become difficult?

In the later stages of dementia, the things a person learned when they were very young might disappear from their memory.

A healthy brain is so good at retrieving memories, thinking and solving problems that you don’t even notice it working. When you have practised something many times, it starts to seem simple and we don't have to think about doing it.

But even simple tasks use and challenge your brain in many different ways. Think about all the different steps involved in eating a plate of food, your brain controls every step.

You weren’t born knowing how to do all these things. You had to learn them, and all this learning is stored in your brain. Each time you sit down to eat, one part of your brain remembers how to do all the different steps, and another helps you to put them in the right order.


People with dementia might forget words or names. They might forget what they’ve just said or done, or where they put something. They might not remember one or more of the steps needed to complete a task or do them in the wrong order, for example when cooking a meal. Things that used to be easy become very difficult.

The brain is like a jigsaw. As the disease progresses the jigsaw breaks up and pieces can be lost forever.


In the later stages of dementia, the things a person learned or experienced when they were younger might disappear from their memory. They may begin to have problems doing everyday things, like getting dressed and washing. Their brain may stop recognising that they need to eat, drink or go to the toilet. Some people may have trouble keeping themselves safe. When this happens, a person with dementia needs more help, support and care from others.