Although there is currently no cure for dementia, a diagnosis can help you get the right treatment (medications) and support. It can also help you, and the people close to you, prepare for the future.
The first signs of dementia can be a worrying time. You should contact your GP and tell them what signs and symptoms you are experiencing. It’s a good idea to take a friend or family member with you so that they can help to explain how the symptoms are impacting on your daily living.
Your GP should first rule out any other cause for your symptoms and then refer you to your nearest memory clinic or specialist for tests.
Currently there is no single test for dementia. A diagnosis is based on a combination of assessments and tests.
The tests usually involve a series of questions which assess different mental abilities, such as:
Sometimes a scan may be recommended to check the structure of the brain.
Once you have been diagnosed with dementia your GP will remain as your first point of contact should you be feeling unwell in any way. However, for practical and emotional support, information, and signposting please get in touch and we will help in any way we can.
In the initial stages of dementia, you may not see any changes other than some memory loss and confusion, and most people live at home and enjoy life in the same way as before their diagnosis.
As the illness gets worse, it is likely that you will find it more difficult to look after yourself and your home. You may then need extra help with daily activities, such as housework, shopping, and adaptations to your home.
When you need extra support, you can apply for a ‘needs assessment’ from the adult social services department of your local council. The assessment should help to identify what type of help you need. If you live with your spouse/partner or another family member or friend helps to care for you, they too should be given a ‘carers assessment’ to help with their wellbeing.
A needs assessment should be done face-to-face, and we recommend that you have a relative or friend with you to take notes.
You should have a new needs assessment every twelve months, or sooner if you have a significant decline in your health or mental capacity, or you experience any changes to your behaviour (for example, signs of aggression). If you have changes to your behaviour your GP should refer you to the local mental health team for an assessment as there may be some medication that could help.
As your dementia progresses you may need more support at home, or you may need to move into a residential or nursing home.
Everyone’s journey is different, and the timeline for progression will be personal you. Some people may stay at the early stage for years, but for others it can progress more rapidly.
Our advice is to try and not dwell on the future, but live your life doing the things you love for as long as you possibly can.
We can help you navigate your journey from the early signs of memory loss.
We can help to signpost you to the right service, we can help with information about your rights, and information about financial planning and support.
We can help you to find daily living aids, or to find care at home, or a residential/nursing home.
We can also help with emotional support. All our services are provided free for the whole family.
Below is a video made by Alzheimer’s Research UK that you may find useful.
Here is some more information that may be useful for you.
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