Not only are we an ageing population, we also have so many things going on in daily life, so much information to take in with our brains constantly trying to decipher what is and isn’t worth storing.
However, when this becomes a regular occurrence and you find yourself going into a room and not remembering why or starting to continually forget people’s names or dates or struggling with planning or thinking clearly then it is really important to visit a GP.
As a society we have a tendency to immediately associate memory difficulties with dementia. However, there are other conditions that can lead to changes in memory and changes in being able to think clearly, which need to be ruled out before a diagnosis of dementia can be made and the GP is the best person to do this.
These can include:
If it is not any of these conditions and is dementia, it is imperative to know what type. This helps with the understanding of the condition and therapies and treatments that may help to improve the symptoms.
GPs will generally:
Dementia can often be difficult to diagnose, especially when symptoms are mild so if a GP is unsure, they will refer you to a specialist in dementia. They are usually based at memory clinics, alongside other experts in diagnosing, caring for and advising people with dementia.
The specialist will carry out a more detailed memory test and may want to organise brain scans such as a CT or MRI scan to see the brain in more detail. Following on from the results of these, the specialist will be able to make a diagnosis.
The specialist should explain what having dementia might mean for you and give you and your family time to ask any questions. They will also discuss:
Receiving a diagnosis of dementia can be really difficult for both yourself and loved ones to digest and it is ok to take as much time as you need to absorb the information and to note that there is still very much a great life to be lived, it might just take some adaptations.
“I am a Dementia Specialist and Trainee Counsellor with a Postgrad in Psychology of Dementia Care, Certificates in Counselling Skills, Mental Health Problems and Dementia and have carried out extensive suicide prevention training.
I am the Founder of the We Care Campaign, an Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador, Dementia Friends Champion and Blogger on all things dementia, mental health and caring.”