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Early signs of Dementia and the benefits of an early diagnosis.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a set of progressive conditions that affect the brain. Dementia is when the brain is damaged by mini strokes or disease, most commonly Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia can affect a person at any age but is more common in those over 65.

Early Warning Signs

Typically there are 10 early warning signs of Dementia. To receive early diagnosis it would be expected that the person is experiencing two or more symptoms severe enough to interfere with their daily life.

  • Memory Loss
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Difficulty planning or solving problems
  • Being confused about time or place
  • Challenges understanding visual information and spatial awareness
  • Problems speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Poor judgement or decision-making
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • Changes in personality or mood

There can be a lot of resistance to gaining an early diagnosis. This can be be because of denial, or fear for what that means for the future. However there are so many benefits to getting an early diagnosis.

Benefits of Early Diagnosis

  • An explanation and treatment for symptoms being experienced. Several different diseases and conditions that are treatable and even curable can present similar symptoms to Dementia.
  • Planning Ahead: Early diagnosis enables the person with the Dementia to be involved in decisions about planning for the future, care needs and end of life arrangements. Its also a good time to discuss financial arrangements and power of attorney and get all legal documents signed.
  • Accessing Dementia Medicines: Medication and lifestyle changes have been proven to be more effective if started during the early stages of Dementia. Early treatment can reduce and delay the onset of more severe symptoms.
  • Getting Advice and Support: With a diagnosis you can access information and support services for the person with Dementia and their family.

Sources of Information

There are a number of great resources and organisations which offer support, information and guidance. Here are some links to a few:

Dementia UK https://www.dementiauk.org/

Alzheimers Society https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/

NHS https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dementia/

Benefits Calculator https://www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators

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