Spotting Dementia – in yourself and in others
By Marion Foreman. Published 2020-02-09
Diagnosing dementia early means that proactive support can be put in place to ensure loved ones are able to lead a fuller more independent life for longer
‘Dementia’ is a scary word and the thought that we might be developing it ourselves or that someone close to us might be showing signs can be very daunting. Hopefully in this series, of which this is the second article, we will highlight the positive actions we can take both before and after being diagnosed. As well as the pro-active support that is available to ensure we live a fuller more active life.
‘Why is diagnosis so important?’ you might ask, especially as we don’t have treatments that can stop the condition progressing. It’s important to remember there are lots of ways people can be supported to live well with dementia, even in the absence of drugs to slow the progression.
Even if you have a healthy lifestyle – what then? Are you guaranteed to be dementia free for the rest of your life? No, sorry, that’s not always what happens. Some of us will go on to develop dementia however we choose to live our lives. (But don’t stop – a healthy lifestyle is great for all sorts of physically problems and it will help you live as well as possible for a as long as possible.)
So if you are worried about dementia - what are you looking for?
- There is no clear list of what to look out for – everyone is different – but there are some common early symptoms;
- Memory loss – you may become aware that you need more prompts to remember things
- Difficulty concentrating – it gets complicated to keep your mind ‘on track’
- Getting confused when doing everyday tasks – maybe struggling to pay for things in shops
- Struggling to find a word when you are having a conversation
- Not being sure about where you are or what time it is
- Noticing that your mood changes rather more than it ever did before
Don’t forget that we all have one or two of these things happen to us from time to time – it doesn’t necessarily mean that we are developing dementia. It’s more about looking at patterns and changes. You might notice that one of your parents ‘isn’t quite right’, nothing specific, just not as they always are. You might notice that you are feeling a bit muddled every now and again – that you struggle a bit to keep up with conversation, that you might have to concentrate very hard to keep ‘on track’.
There are many tests that can be done to fully assess for dementia – we will look at those in the next article.
There is also a great deal that can be done if there is a dementia diagnosis. Many people live very well for a long time with dementia – more about this later in the series.
Don’t despair, there is so much that you can do to ensure you or your loved ones continue to live a full and active life.