Memory problems in older adults are often attributed to old age. Whilst mild forgetfulness can be a part of normal ageing, more serious memory or personality changes can be a sign of dementia, which is not part of the normal ageing process. Dementia is a general term which describes permanent changes in memory, personality and reasoning. Alzheimer’s disease is one of many types of dementia which involves changes in memory, behaviour and mood, which gradually worsen over time.
In any form of dementia, early assessment is crucial. If you have noticed a family member becoming forgetful, confused or disorientated, or have become concerned about changes in their personality such as aggression, mood swings, or impulsivity, it is important to consult a practitioner in order to identify what may be early signs of dementia. Diagnosing dementia in the early stages provides the best chance to plan a course of support, whether it involves medication to slow further decline or accessing services to allow the individual to live independently in their own home. Alternatively, if a family member is becoming distressed or anxious about their memory, assessment may be important in reassuring them that their memory and reasoning ability is normal for their age. An initial assessment is also important in healthy adults to provide a baseline to which later ability can be compared and any decline over time can be identified.
If a family member has already been diagnosed with a form of dementia, you may be struggling to come to terms with the effect the disease has had on your loved one. Caring for someone with dementia can cause substantial distress and burnout. Careers often feel conflicted about how to support the individual, and guilty over needing a break. If you are a career, or a family member of someone with dementia, it is important to seek support and find help to manage the emotional strain of looking after someone with dementia. In the later stages, having to make decisions on behalf of the individual with dementia, and agreeing with family members about the next best step can be a huge source of emotional stress for the wider family unit.
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In helping a family member with dementia, it is possible to contact one of our neuropsychologist directly. However, liaising with the individual’s doctor is an important part of the diagnostic process. Therefore, referrals can also be made via a General Practitioner or specialist doctor.Book an appointment