What is Dementia?
Dementia can be defined as a group of symptoms caused due to the loss or damage to the nerve cells that form the brain. It affects a person’s cognitive abilities and impacts a person’s ability to carry out their everyday tasks.
According to Dementia Australia, dementia is an umbrella term to define a number of neurological conditions of which memory loss is the most common symptom.
A person with dementia shows a variety of other symptoms including disorientation, mood swings, displacing things and changes in personality leading to a progressive cognitive decline.
If you notice any warning signs in yourself or identify anyone in your family and friends, it is best to seek medical help and talk with your doctors.
Importance of early diagnosis of dementia
Early signs of dementia are mostly vague and they even greatly vary from patient to patient. Perhaps one of the most usual signs is facing problems with remembering recent events.
Therefore, early diagnosis and access to critical medical services can help people take control of their condition. Apart from providing early treatment alternatives, it can help identify other medical conditions with dementia-like symptoms.
Being able to identify the early signs of dementia helps you prepare for the future. It gives you the time to explore a variety of drug and non-drug treatments available and access relevant resources and support from doctors and specialists.
Recognise the early warning signs of Dementia
One of the easiest ways to recognise dementia is if your memory loss starts to impact you in your everyday life. You may find it almost very difficult to recollect recent events and activities that gradually increase as you age. This could be a warning sign and medical intervention is very important.
However, early memory loss with dementia should also not be mistaken with aging. Failure to recognise the early signs of dementia could lead to people not being diagnosed with dementia for many years. Hence a doctor’s intervention is a must to diagnose dementia.
Apart from the most common symptom of memory loss, the other common early symptoms that a person might experience includes:
- Not being able to remember or facing difficulty in remembering recent events and activities
- Increased confusion
- Changes in behaviour, personality and judgments
- Decreased concentration at work
- Loss of ability to perform everyday tasks
- Facing problem in communicating like trouble in finding the right words or using words that might not fit well in a sentence or in context
- Difficulty in abstract thinking like finding difficulty in counting, managing finances
- Poor cognitive and spatial abilities like difficulty in judging speed, distance and direction while driving
- Mood swings including sudden confusion, feeling remorseful, withdrawn and suspicious at times.
The 4 common types of Dementia in Australia
This is the most common type of Dementia in Australia accounting for almost 70% of all Dementia diagnoses in Australia. Although it starts with a sudden short term memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition, with its progression rate varying from person to person.
People with Alzheimer’s disease find it difficult with thinking and reasoning. They may also have little or no orientation at times. The biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is increasing age, with about 3 in every 10 people over 85 having dementia worldwide.
2. Vascular Dementia
This type of Dementia which is also sometimes called “Post-Stroke Dementia” is caused due to brain damage as a result of cardiovascular problems and strokes.
This is also one of the easiest types of Dementia to recognise due to the drastic changes in a person’s behavior almost immediately seen after a stroke. Vascular Dementia mostly impacts your cognitive abilities which is due to the result of damage in the brain.
The progress of Vascular Dementia is shown to be slowed or even prevented by the use of drug-based treatment.
3. Lewy-Body Dementia
Lewy Body Dementia is more or like a combination of Alzheimer’s Diseases and Parkinson’ Syndrome. Often misdiagnosed, this is the second most common type of Dementia, that can be identified by the early signs of visual hallucinations.
A patient with LBD also experiences declined cognitive skills, problems with sleeping followed by times of confusion and extremely sensitive to psychotic medications that can be fatal.
4. Fronto- Temporal Dementia
As the name suggests, this type of Dementia is caused due to damage in the Frontal and Temporal lobes of the brain leading to people experiencing issues with language and adverse changes in their personality.
People with FTD are usually withdrawn to themselves and as the condition progresses, they lose their emotional side and show little to no emotions and needs to others around them.
Diagnosing Dementia at Inkerman Medical Group
The best place to start your Dementia diagnosis is by talking with your local GP. A GP will conduct many tests and assessments to achieve a more definitive diagnosis.
At Inkerman Medical, our GPs have a special interest in diagnosing dementia.
What to expect at Inkerman Medical Group Dementia Assessment
- A thorough medical examination and psychological assessment will be conducted by our GP to identify the type of dementia. This is done in regards to ensuring the presence of dementia in a patient and if the correct treatment is done.
- A detailed medical history of your family is studied as part of the assessment to identify if anyone in your family had been diagnosed with dementia before.
- An assessment of your mental health is also conducted followed by biopsies including blood- test, glucose tests, urine tests.
- Further referrals to memory specialists, neurologists or psychiatrists are provided if necessary.