A recent report from the Dementia Commission reveals that approximately 36% of individuals in England who have dementia are unaware of their condition.
The report highlights steps that health and care professionals can take to enhance the early detection of dementia, but what can you do if you suspect someone may be experiencing symptoms? And how can you broach this topic with them?
First, there are several essential things to keep in mind. Dementia is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, which develop over time and cause issues with memory, reasoning, communication, personality changes, and a decline in the ability to carry out daily activities like shopping, washing, paying bills, or cooking.
It’s important to remember that dementia can present differently in each person, so it is crucial to know what is normal for your loved one. For instance, a typically methodical and organized individual starting to become disorganized and disoriented is distinct from a generally forgetful person becoming slightly more forgetful.
Additionally, cognitive changes naturally occur as we age. For example, learning may take longer as we grow older. However, a one-time event, regardless of its significance, does not necessarily mean someone has dementia.
It’s important to look for a pattern of decline. If you observe these changes happening in a short period, such as weeks or days, it is less likely to be dementia and might be indicative of a more severe condition. In such cases, urgent medical care is advised.
Dementia is one of the most feared conditions of our time. The fear of losing one’s sense of self can cause people to avoid discussing the issue altogether, which is why it is important to approach the topic carefully when suspecting that one might have dementia or not. Confiding in other relatives and asking if they noticed anything or not can also help.
Sometimes, the person may be in denial or lack insight into their memory problems. While this can be a symptom of dementia, it is not always the case. If someone expresses concern about their memory issues, it is essential not to downplay their worries, as it likely took courage for them to admit their concerns.
Make sure to remind your loved one that you’ll be there for them, regardless if they have dementia or not. And besides, research shows that the positive aspects of receiving a timely dementia diagnosis outweigh the initial fears, so don’t hesitate to go to a doctor.