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What You Should Know | Dementia


Fear and uncertainty means that many people ignore the initial symptoms of dementia, but early diagnosis ensures that you and your loved ones can establish the right support and plan for the future.


D


ementia encompasses multiple conditions that lead to difficulties such as memory loss or unclear


thinking. The experience of one dementia sufferer may differ entirely to that of another, which makes it critical that the problem is identified and the underlying cause diagnosed. While some causes of dementia, such as brain tumours, depression or vitamin deficiency, can often be successfully treated or reversed, others—such as Alzheimer’s disease— are neurodegenerative conditions, meaning that they gradually damage the brain. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking medications to improve symptoms can help you manage even these incurable diseases, which is a subject on which your GP will be able to provide advice.


On the Lookout There are several warning signs you


can look out for to help you make an early diagnosis of dementia. These include: h Changes in mood and personality, even depression h Confusion in unfamiliar environments h Depression


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DEALING WITH DEMENTIA


h Difficulties with organisation and planning h Difficulty with numbers and keeping track of money h Inability to find the right words h Memory loss and problems with short-term memory. Some people find that they forget names, routes or messages


Early symptoms are often mild, so people with dementia may not take their symptoms seriously, and many may not even realise that they have any symptoms at all. It is important to be on the lookout for telltale signs displayed by your friends and family


members so you can encourage them to seek treatment.


Living With Dementia The onset of dementia tends to be


gradual, so most people can continue living a relatively normal life for a long time after their diagnosis. Remaining active, getting plenty of sleep and eating a healthy diet all slow the progression of the condition. If someone you care about is suffering from dementia, encourage them to join a support group and maintain an active social life so they can avoid feelings of isolation and depression.


DEAR DOCTOR WITH DR CHRIS STEELE 125


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