How Is It Treated
There are medicines you can take for dementia. They cannot cure it, but they can slow it down for a while and make it easier to live with.
As dementia gets worse, a person may get depressed or angry and upset. An active social life, counseling, and sometimes medicine may help with changing emotions.
If a stroke caused the dementia, there are things you can do to reduce the chance of another stroke. Make healthy lifestyle changes including eating healthy, being active, staying at a healthy weight, and not smoking. Manage other health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
When Not To Worry: Age
- Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later
- Occasionally needing help with oven settings or the TV remote control
- Misplacing things from time to time, and retracing your steps to find them
- Making the occasional bad decision, like running out of petrol
- Becoming irritable if your routine is disrupted
This article is kept updated with the latest information.
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It’s because of this that many people, McArdle says are wrongly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
She said: “Providing patients with the correct diagnosis is especially important, as certain drugs, such as anti-psychotics, can be harmful to people with dementia with Lewy bodies.”
Evidence had previously shown that signs of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s could be seen in someone’s gait.
In her study, McArdle looked at different ways people with the two conditions walked.
This included the speed, how their steps change as they walk and the length of the step.
As part of her study, people walked across a mat with thousands of sensors inside, which created an electronic footprint.
From the footprint she could find out more about the walking pattern such as how long it took them to make a step and how much their steps change as they work.
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How Accurate Is It
This quiz is NOT a diagnostic tool. Mental health disorders can only be diagnosed by licensed healthcare professionals.
Psycom believes assessments can be a valuable first step toward getting treatment. All too often people stop short of seeking help out of fear their concerns arent legitimate or severe enough to warrant professional intervention.
If you think you or someone you care about may be experiencing symptoms of dementia or any other mental health condition, Psycom.net strongly recommends that you seek help from a mental health professional in order to receive a proper diagnosis and support. For those in crisis, we have compiled a list of resources where you may be able to find additional help at: https://www.psycom.net/get-help-mental-health.
Withdrawing From Hobbies Or Family
Its common in midlife to have periods of low motivation, or feeling less sociable than usual, says Puckering.
But if you find yourself consistently becoming more confrontational than usual, or regularly snapping at your family, you may want to see a doctor to rule out other conditions including menopause, a mood disorder such as depression, a thyroid condition or even a vitamin deficiency.”
Others in the family may notice these changes before the person themselves.
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Eye Conditions And Hearing Loss
People who develop certain eye conditions are at increased risk of dementia, according to research from 2021. A UK Biobank study of 12,000 midlifers found those with age-related macular degeneration were 25 per cent more likely to develop dementia. Those with cataracts had an 11 per cent increased risk of dementia, and those with diabetes-related eye disease had a 61 per cent per cent heightened risk of dementia.
The study follows research from 2021 by the University of Oxford that suggested people who go out for a meal at a noisy restaurant but are unable to hear what their friends are saying may be at an increased risk of developing dementia. The data from the study suggests that age-related hearing loss might be related to the onset of Alzheimers and other conditions.
While preliminary, these results suggest speech-in-noise hearing impairment could represent a promising target for dementia prevention, says Thomas Littlejohns of the Nuffield Department of Population Health at Oxford and a lead author of the study.
Katie Puckering is information services manager for Alzheimers Research UK. There are two reasons for this potential link, she says. The first is that hearing loss might be linked with cellular changes in the brain. But the second is that social isolation has long been known as a risk of Alzheimers and other forms of dementia.
Early intervention gives you the best chance, says Puckering. At the very least, this will allow you to plan ahead.
What Diagnosis Falls Under Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimers disease is a diagnosis in itself. When it is noticeable clinically and identified early on, the formal diagnosis may be Mild Cognitive Impairment due to Alzheimers disease which may later develop into a diagnosis of dementia due to Alzheimers disease.
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How The Sage Test For Dementia Works
SAGE stands for Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination and was developed by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
The SAGE test has 12 questions that cover all aspects of cognition, including memory, problem solving, and language.
There are 4 different versions of the test. Theyre similar enough, but having multiple versions means that someone could take the test once a year and wouldnt improve their score each year just from the practice of taking it before.
This way, the test is slightly different each time.
Mental Ability Tests To Diagnose Dementia
People with symptoms of dementia are given tests to check their mental abilities, such as memory or thinking.
These tests are known as cognitive assessments, and may be done initially by a GP.
There are several different tests. A common one used by GPs is the General Practitioner Assessment of Cognition .
Although these tests cannot diagnose dementia, they may show there are memory difficulties that need further investigation.
Most tests involve a series of pen-and-paper tests and questions, each of which carries a score.
These tests assess a number of different mental abilities, including:
- short- and long-term memory
- language and communication skills
- awareness of time and place
It’s important to remember that test scores may be influenced by a person’s level of education.
For example, someone who cannot read or write very well may have a lower score, but they may not have dementia.
Similarly, someone with a higher level of education may achieve a higher score, but still have dementia.
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What To Expect When You See A Gp About Dementia
A GP will ask about your symptoms and other aspects of your health.
They’ll also ask if you’re finding it difficult to manage everyday activities such as:
- washing and dressing
- cooking and shopping
- paying bills
If possible, someone who knows you well should be with you at your GP appointment, so they can describe any changes or problems they’ve noticed. They could also help you remember what was said at the appointment, if this is difficult for you.
Memory problems do not necessarily mean you have dementia. These problems can have other causes, such as:
- an underactive thyroid
- side effects of some medicines
To help rule out other causes of memory problems, the GP will do a physical examination and may organise tests, such as a blood test and urine test.
You’ll also be asked to do a memory or cognitive test to check any problems with your memory or ability to think clearly.
Read more about the tests used to diagnose dementia.
Blood Tests To Check For Other Conditions
Your GP will arrange for blood tests to help exclude other causes of symptoms that can be confused with dementia.
In most cases, these blood tests will check:
- liver function
- haemoglobin A1c
- vitamin B12 and folate levels
If your doctor thinks you may have an infection, they may also ask you to do a urine test or other investigations.
Read more about blood tests.
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Why Knowing Signs Is Important
For over two years, my husband and I struggled with the increasingly difficult behavior of his parents Only after a traumatic emotional breakdown and the hospitalization of his mother did we finally learn that they both were suffering from dementia caused by Alzheimer’s. We wished we had gotten help earlier.
Unfortunately, our story is not uncommon. Most people with dementia are not diagnosed until there is some sort of accident or hospitalization. By recognizing the early signs of dementia, you can often get better treatment.
- About 30% of dementia is not Alzheimer’s and may even be something that can be prevented and cured.
- Alzheimer’s dementia can’t be cured, but early detection allows for treatment to perhaps delay the disease and to plan for the future.
Stage : Mild Cognitive Impairment
Clear cognitive problems begin to manifest in stage 3. A few signs of stage 3 dementia include:
- Getting lost easily
- Noticeably poor performance at work
- Forgetting the names of family members and close friends
- Difficulty retaining information read in a book or passage
- Losing or misplacing important objects
- Difficulty concentrating
Patients often start to experience mild to moderate anxiety as these symptoms increasingly interfere with day to day life. Patients who may be in this stage of dementia are encouraged to have a clinical interview with a clinician for proper diagnosis.
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Who Is This Dementia Quiz For
Below is a list of 9 questions composed for people who are concerned about memory loss. The questions relate to life experiences common among people who have symptoms of dementia, currently known as Neurocognitive Disorder , and are based on criteria in the DSM-5.
The following questions encompass the six domains of cognition that are evaluated when assessing symptoms NCD: executive functioning, complex attention, perceptual-motor ability, social interactions, learning/memory-related difficulties, and challenges involving daily activities.
Please read each question carefully, and indicate how often you have experienced the same or similar challenges in the past few months.
Stage : Moderate Dementia
Patients in stage 5 need some assistance in order to carry out their daily lives. The main sign for stage 5 dementia is the inability to remember major details such as the name of a close family member or a home address. Patients may become disoriented about the time and place, have trouble making decisions, and forget basic information about themselves, such as a telephone number or address.
While moderate dementia can interfere with basic functioning, patients at this stage do not need assistance with basic functions such as using the bathroom or eating. Patients also still have the ability to remember their own names and generally the names of spouses and children.
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Supporting A Person With Dementia And Sleep Disturbance
Sleep problems tend to become more common and more severe as dementia progresses. They can happen daily, and last for a long time. The growing exhaustion can affect the person with dementia and you, their carer.
Over time the person will need more support, especially if your own sleep is often disturbed. If the person you care for is frequently up in the night, it may be possible to have a night sitter.
This is a carer who will look after the person with dementia at night, to help you to have a good night’s sleep. A person with dementia and severe sleep problems may need to be cared for by a live-in or visiting carer, or in residential care.
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Read our advice and practical tips for carers on when is the right time for a person with dementia to be moved to a care home.
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Future Directions In Diagnosis Research
Considerable research effort is being put into the development of better tools for accurate and early diagnosis. Research continues to provide new insights that in the future may promote early detection and improved diagnosis of dementia, including:
- Better dementia assessment tests that are suitable for people from diverse educational, social, linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
- New computerised cognitive assessment tests which can improve the delivery of the test and simplify responses.
- Improved screening tools to allow dementia to be more effectively identified and diagnosed by GPs.
- The development of blood and spinal fluid tests to measure Alzheimers related protein levels and determine the risk of Alzheimers disease.
- The use of sophisticated brain imaging techniques and newly developed dyes to directly view abnormal Alzheimers protein deposits in the brain, yielding specific tests for Alzheimers disease.
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What To Watch For
Here are some of the warning signs identified by dementia experts and mental health organizations:
Difficulty with everyday tasks. Everyone makes mistakes, but people with dementia may find it increasingly difficult to do things like keep track of monthly bills or follow a recipe while cooking, the Alzheimers Association says. They also may find it hard to concentrate on tasks, take much longer to do them or have trouble finishing them.
Repetition. Asking a question over and over or telling the same story about a recent event multiple times are common indicators of mild or moderate Alzheimer’s, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Communication problems. Observe if a loved one has trouble joining in conversations or following along with them, stops abruptly in the middle of a thought or struggles to think of words or the name of objects.
Getting lost. People with dementia may have difficulty with visual and spatial abilities. That can manifest itself in problems like getting lost while driving, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Personality changes. A loved one who begins acting unusually anxious, confused, fearful or suspicious becomes upset easily or loses interest in activities and seems depressed is cause for concern.
Troubling behavior. If your family member seems to have increasingly poor judgment when handling money or neglects grooming and cleanliness, pay attention.
People with mild cognitive impairment are at an increased risk of developing dementia.
Other Scans And Procedures To Diagnose Dementia
Other types of scan, such as a SPECT scan or a PET scan, may be recommended if the result of your MRI or CT scan is uncertain.
However, most people will not need these types of scans.
Both SPECT and PET scans look at how the brain functions, and can pick up abnormalities with the blood flow in the brain.
If a specialist is worried that epilepsy may be causing the dementia symptoms, an EEG may be taken to record the brain’s electrical signals , but this is rare.
Page last reviewed: 3 July 2020 Next review due: 3 July 2023
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How Long Do Dementia Patients Live After Diagnosis
Dementia symptoms typically progress slowly. People with dementia will progress from mild to severe dementia at varying speeds and may be diagnosed earlier or later in life. Some people with dementia may live for up to 20 years after their diagnosis, though according to the Alzheimer’s Association research shows that the average person lives for four to eight years after a diagnosis of dementia. It’s important to point out that the diagnosis of dementia is often missed, delayed, or diagnosed when the illness is moderate or advanced. The impact of that variable may not be accurately reflected in the research regarding the years of life post-diagnosis.
Stage : Age Associated Memory Impairment
This stage features occasional lapses of memory most frequently seen in:
- Forgetting where one has placed an object
- Forgetting names that were once very familiar
Oftentimes, this mild decline in memory is merely normal age-related cognitive decline, but it can also be one of the earliest signs of degenerative dementia. At this stage, signs are still virtually undetectable through clinical testing. Concern for early onset of dementia should arise with respect to other symptoms.
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What Kind Of Doctor Tests For Dementia
A primary care doctor can perform a physical exam and find out more about your symptoms to determine what may be the cause. They will likely refer you to one or several specialists that can perform specific tests to diagnose dementia. Specialists may include neurologists, who specialize in the brain and nervous system psychiatrists or psychologists, who specialize in mental health, mental functions, and memory or geriatricians, who specialize in healthcare for older adults.
At Your Appointment With The Specialist
It’s important to make good use of your time with the specialist. Write down questions you want to ask, make a note of any medical terms the doctor uses, and ask if you can come back if you think of more questions later. Taking the opportunity to go back can be very helpful.
They may also do further, more detailed memory tests.
If the specialist is still not certain about the diagnosis, you may need to have further, more complex tests. But most cases of dementia can be diagnosed after these assessments.
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Becoming Confused In Familiar Surroundings
This is different to: getting confused about the day of the week but working it out later.
Your parent may forget where they are and how they got there. Along with losing track of dates, seasons and the time this is one of the most tell-tale signs of early onset dementia.
They may also struggle to understand something if its not happening immediately. This is because the mind of someone with dementia is mostly situated in the present and they find it difficult to comprehend the passage of time.
For example, your mum may tell you shes missed you because she thinks she hasnt seen you in a long time, but in reality you visited her last week. Another example includes time passing very slowly in a general sense: ten minutes might seem like an hour, an hour might seem like a day and so on.