When is it time to seek help when a loved one is not quite themself?
During the holiday season you may have gotten together to celebrate the year with your friends and family. One of the great joys of this time is spending time with people you haven’t seen all year or sometimes for many years. But sometimes those people are not quite how you remember them. Perhaps a much-loved aunt or uncle is unable to remember your name. Or maybe a usually fast-talking and gregarious older friend is withdrawn and having trouble following conversations.
Little things like these may well be easily written-off as moments of forgetfulness or signs of getting older, but they can also signal the early stages of dementia. Even with people you know well, it can be hard to distinguish between signs of holiday stress and ageing and symptoms of dementia. Research suggests that only 20-50% of people living with dementia are recognised and diagnosed in primary care. So when is it time to seek help?
When to seek a diagnosis
Everyone has moments of forgetfulness – we have all spent a few minutes looking for our car keys only to realise they are already in our pocket! But when a loved one is having trouble remembering things that happened moments ago, it may indicate something more serious.
Significant memory loss can be subtle and difficult to spot. Even when it is clear, memory lapses alone are not a sure sign that someone may be in the early stages of dementia. Difficulties with language, communicating, or maintaining focus are also potential signs that it is time to consult a doctor.
The more common symptoms of dementia onset include:
- poor short-term memory (struggling to recall things from minutes or hours ago);
- difficulty with everyday tasks like putting away the cutlery;
- changes in personality;
- difficulty following conversations;
- becoming depressed or withdrawn;
- difficulty with abstract thinking;
- poor judgment;
- becoming disoriented or confused about time and place.
If you are worried about a loved one who is displaying some of these symptoms then making an appointment with their GP is an important first step. An early diagnosis opens the door to treatment and support that can slow the progression of dementia and help maintain the independence and wellbeing of the affected person
Click here to find Dementia Auckland on Eldernet