Early Dementia Detection is Crucial to Treatment

By: Pine Rest Staff

We all become forgetful as we grow older, right? Wrong. Memory problems are not a normal part of aging, but it isn’t always easy to know the difference between normal changes that affect us as we age and more serious symptoms that could be the sign of memory problems that we normally associate with dementia. Dementia is the descriptive term for any medical condition that causes memory difficulties and problems with at least one other brain function such as speech, concentration, or more complex thinking involving problem solving, planning, and organization. Two of the most widespread forms of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 60 percent of those with dementia, and vascular dementia which accounts for 20 percent. Alzheimer’s disease is present in as much as 50 percent of the population over age 85.  Because the number of adults over age 65 is expected to nearly triple by 2050, there is a strong need to identify these symptoms and treat them as best we can. Although there are many exciting treatment possibilities being studied, there is not currently any way to stop or reverse the symptoms in most types of dementia.  But because some dementias can be the result of reversible medical conditions, the first phone call should always be to one’s primary care physician to discuss the symptoms. Though there is no cure, there is current treatment with a medication that helps injured brain cells work more efficiently, and there is a second kind of medication generally administered later in the process that can keep some healthy brain cells from dying.  Because dementia treatments are most effective when started early, an early diagnosis is critical.

10 Early Warning Signs of Dementia

  1. Repeating questions or statements.
  2. Forgetting to pay bills or paying them twice.
  3. Missing scheduled appointments.
  4. Uncharacteristically misplacing items around the house.
  5. Changes in mood and personality.
  6. Decreased motivation.
  7. Uncharacteristically making rude or inappropriate comments.
  8. Having difficulty with problem-solving.
  9. Having problems with complex activities (Example: driving, preparing meals).
  10. Becoming more easily confused.

Reducing the Risk for Dementia

The key to reducing dementia risk is to develop a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle when one is young.
  • Keep mentally active by reading, learning a new language, attending community lectures, etc.
  • Keep physically active
  • Watch what you eat
  • Get enough sleep
  • Develop new hobbies
  • Avoid excessive alcohol use

When to Seek Help for Dementia-related Symptoms

  • The situation at your loved one’s home has become dangerous. (For example, adults are unable to prepare meals and do not get enough food or are at risk of starting a kitchen fire.)
  • Your loved one is forgetting to take important medications.
  • Your loved one is unable to keep themselves or their homes clean.
To learn more, you may visit the Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease Insights section of the Pine Rest website.

Need help for you or a loved one? We offer assessment and treatment for dementia as well as support for family caregivers.

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