1. Key facts from the World Health Organization:
- Dementia is a syndrome in which there is deterioration in cognitive function beyond what might be expected from the usual consequences of biological ageing.
- Although dementia mainly affects older people, it is not an inevitable consequence of aging.
- Currently more than 55 million people live with dementia worldwide, and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year.
- Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that primarily or secondarily affect the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and may contribute to 60-70% of cases.
- Dementia is currently the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases and one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people globally.
- Dementia has physical, psychological, social and economic impacts, not only for people living with dementia, but also for their carers, families and society at large.
2. 10 key Dementia warning signs to look for:
- Memory loss that affects day-to-day abilities
- Difficulty performing familiar tasks
- Problems with language
- Disorientation in time and space
- Poor or decreased judgement
- Problems keeping track of things
- Misplacing things
- Changes in mood and behaviour
- Trouble with images and spatial relationships
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
A Diagnosis of dementia requires noted changes in two or more areas of functioning. Memory loss alone does not indicate a diagnosis of dementia.
3. What causes Dementia?
Billions of dollars are spent each year on dementia research, but we are yet to fully understand the cause and pathology behind the condition. The Alzheimer’s Disease International organization recently released a report detailing 12 risk factors that can be modified to help reduce our risk of developing dementia in later life:
- Physical Inactivity
- Excessive Alcohol Consumption
- Air Pollution
- Head Injury
- Infrequent Social Contact
- Less Education
- Hearing Impairment
4. Importance of Early Diagnosis
It is possible to live well with dementia with a comprehensive understanding of the condition, and the right supports in place to facilitate positive outcomes. Early diagnosis enables clients and caregivers to increase their knowledge, overcome stigma, actively participate in decision-making and future care planning, and ensure timely access to treatment options, and local care and support resources.
5. How do I get tested for Dementia?
There is no single test to determine the presence of Dementia. In Bermuda a diagnosis of dementia can be provided by your family doctor or memory care specialist. Health care providers will typically undertake the following:
- In-depth medical history
- Medication Review
- Physical examination
- Rule out other potential causes of symptoms (i.e. depression, delirium or sensory loss)
- Cognitive screening
- Laboratory Tests- blood work and/or urinalysis
- Brain imaging (CT/MRI) as necessary
6. Treatment Options
There is currently no cure for Dementia, but there are a range of available interventions that may help to change disease progression and effectively manage symptoms. Treatment typically consists of a combination of drug, alternative therapies and lifestyle modifications. Consult your doctor or memory care specialist to find out more.