The memory service team share their tips on spotting and treating dementia
This year, Dementia Action Week (16 May to 22 May) is all about diagnosis. Research by the Alzheimer’s Society shows that there is a misconception around memory loss being a sign of normal ageing and this is the biggest barrier to people seeking a dementia diagnosis. They want to encourage those who might be living with undiagnosed dementia to seek guidance and support and to feel empowered to take the next step.
IslingtonLife talks to Jade, who manages Islington Memory and Dementia Navigator Service, and Stephen, a memory nurse within the team, about why dementia diagnoses are so important.
What are some common potential dementia symptoms to look out for?
Stephen: There are lots of potential early symptoms, like noticing that you’re more forgetful. Planning and organising usual tasks in life can become more difficult, or maybe missing appointments.
Jade: Someone might struggle to tell or recall stories with the same level of detail that they used to. There could be speech and language issues, too, such as not being able to find the right words. People experiencing these changes might become snappy or irritated by them – so changes in personality are something to look out for, too.
Why is early diagnosis so important?
Jade: Early diagnoses can help people and families plan better and gives people more choice and control over the future. It means we can get preventative measures in place early, so that dementia will have less of an impact, as well as managing other long-term conditions that could make dementia worse.
Stephen: Having a memory assessment means that you can get support, share concerns with professionals and make the most of the wellbeing support available.
How can someone who is worried that a loved one might have dementia take steps towards diagnosis?
Stephen: Communication can be difficult, but it does help to start the process of accepting a possible diagnosis. Don’t hold back if you have any concerns: your GP should be your first point of contact. It’s really useful to jot down anything at all that doesn’t seem quite right – it all helps to assess the situation.
Jade: A diagnosis that isn’t dementia is also important – it means you can rule it out.