Dementia is an umbrella term for the variety of conditions that can cause deterioration of brain function. Just stop for a second and consider the vast array of functions that our CPU (the brain) controls; movement, reflexes, taste & smell, balance, speech, understanding, communication, concentration, co-ordination, emotions and many more besides. It becomes easier to understand how dementia can have such a vastly different impact on the lives of the people it affects.
However, one thing that many forms of dementia share in common is the high risk of behavioural disorders, changes in personality and people behaving out of character.
A worry that some of us have experienced in the past: One that many will encounter in the years ahead is, how do I recognise the signs that maybe my loved one is beginning to have to life with some form of early dementia? Here are a few things to look for:
- Are the memory lapses that my loved one is now encountering starting to disrupt their daily life?
- Are they beginning to struggle with planning and solving problems?
- Are they experiencing difficulty in completing familiar day to day tasks around the home?
- Are they starting to show signs of confusion, particularly with regard to time & place?
- Are they having trouble retracing steps when they attempt to find something that has been mislaid?
- Is your loved one starting to demonstrate fluctuations in mood and personality?
- Is their ability to make sound judgements decreasing?
- Does the prospect of social interaction arouse anxiety, is your loved one becoming increasingly withdrawn?
There are other warning signs to be aware of. However, if you are starting to recognise these changes in your loved one, a call to your GP is a good starting point. They will carry out an initial assessment and arrange for a diagnosis to be made.
Early intervention is so important. It can ensure that there is an opportunity to take advantage of prescribed medicines and a range of therapies at an early stage. These aids will have a major positive influence in helping your loved one to continue to have a good quality of life as they live with dementia.
Philip Keohane is a regular contributor to Xn Magazine