One of the greatest fears of getting older for people is that they may suffer with dementia in later life. Dementia often strikes people over the age of 70 but it is not exclusive to this age group and can strike people as young as those in their 40’s.
So if you have a relative who you suspect may be starting to suffer with dementia then you might be wondering how to tell if this is the case? I have recently gone through this experience and so thought I would share it with you.
The first symptoms of dementia in the case of my elderly relative were that she kept forgetting things – she would get muddled about what she was doing and where she was going and also she had a few unexplained falls. These kind of symptoms seem to be quite common in early onset dementia but obviously every case is different, depending on the cause of the dementia.
Sometimes the symptoms can get worse very quickly and at other times they are a slow and systematic set of symptoms that may take a while to pick up – thinking that things like being forgetful is just ‘down to old age’.
However, the only real way to tell if someone has dementia is to go through a system of tests where the patient is scored on various tasks that test their cognitive ability. From here they will be given a score that can show the extent of any dementia. The most common test is the MMSE where patients are given a score out of 30 and the lower the score the worse the dementia. There are drugs that can be taken and these are often prescribed for those who have a score under 26.
Dementia can be isolating and confusing for the individual who often doesn’t realise what is happening. One of the best ways to help them cope is to set up a regular routine and also not to forget that they need to have a life outside of dementia and to do the things that they would normally do for as long as possible.