Look for the 10 common early signs of Dementia
1) Memory Loss
You may notice subtle changes initially such as repeating the same story and asking the same question. Often their long-term memory will be good but not their short term one.
2) Difficulty performing tasks
There may be a shift in their ability to perform familiar and everyday tasks such as cooking a meal, as well as difficulty multi-tasking.
3) Problems with language
They may struggle to find the right words or to communicate their thoughts and feelings. They may remove themselves from social situations to avoid making mistakes around others.
4) Disorientation to time and place
They may have difficulty knowing the time of day, where they are or where they need to be.
5) Poor or decreased judgement
They may appear confused and not work well under pressure, with difficulty in decision-making, problem solving and judgement.
6) Problem keeping track of things
They may have difficulty keeping track of dates and times, or any new information, and rely on family and friends for memory aid.
7) Misplacing things
They may misplace items regularly and forget where they’ve put things.
8) Changes in mood and behaviour
They may experience an increase in feelings of anxiety and low mood, making them appear ‘difficult’, suspicious and defensive to others.
9) Trouble with images and spatial relationships
They may have trouble understanding visual images (e.g. road signs) and spatial relationships (e.g. speed and distance), which can have major repercussions for their safety to drive.
10) Withdrawal from work or social activities
For fear of others noticing changes in their ability to manage, they may loose interest in their work or hobbies and appear socially detached.
What you can do to help someone you love?
1) Gently broach the subject and express your concerns.
2) Give the person time to get used to the idea of having a review by a GP.
3) Book a double appointment with the GP. Let the GP know the reason for the visit prior to the appointment.
4) Attend the appointment together.
5) The GP may refer you onto a specialist – Geriatrician, Psychiatrist of Old Age, Mental Health for Older Peoples Team, a Memory Clinic or a Neurologist for a more in-depth assessment.
6) Go with them to see the specialist, support them through the assessment, cognitive testing, CT scans etc.
7) Allow the person time to adjust to the diagnosis.
8) Begin to plan for the future – most importantly discuss and sort Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA).
9) Closely monitor their safety (for example with driving) and if you’re concerned, seek professional advice about what to do about it.
10) Assist the person living with a diagnosis of dementia to live well, helping them to maintain dignity, respect, independence and engagement for as long as possible.
What should I do if am concerned about myself or someone I know?
Confusion or forgetfulness may not mean someone has dementia but if you’re concerned about changes in someone it’s helpful to seek advice. You can make an appointment with your GP, or for more information and a range of support options, complete the simple form below and we will get in touch to help.
We’re by your side to help you, your family and whānau to live your best life.