Everybody forgets things from time to time and many people find that their memory becomes less reliable as they get older. For some it could be an early sign of dementia.
September is World Alzheimer’s Month and Warwickshire County Council is raising awareness of the range of support and information available for people diagnosed with dementia, and for people who care for someone with dementia.
Stress, anxiety, depression, certain physical illnesses, infections and vitamin and thyroid deficiencies are just a few of the things that can make memory worse. However, anyone who finds that their memory is getting noticeably worse, or affecting their everyday life, should book an appointment with a GP to find out what help, support and treatment is available.
People can live well with dementia if they get the right support as shown in the case of Warwickshire couple Gordon and Marie who received support from a dementia advisor (from Warwickshire’s Dementia Connect Service) following Marie’s vascular dementia diagnosis. Marie was struggling to come to terms with her diagnosis and would become angry with her husband, Gordon, whenever he raised the subject. Marie’s denial of her diagnosis was a barrier to Gordon being able to adapt the home for Marie or receive any support. Gordon contacted Dementia Connect for advice and support, requesting that they communicated via text to avoid upsetting Marie.
The dementia advisor was able to provide information about the dementia diagnosis, what this meant for Marie and provide details about assistive technology to support them at home. The advisor was able to speak to the GP on their behalf and make referrals into supportive services, they also supported Gordon with strategies to approach the subject of dementia with a person who is in denial and was able to refer Gordon to the Caring Together Warwickshire Service so he could receive a carers assessment, which gives him access to additional support.
Portfolio holder for Adult Social Care and Health, Councillor Margaret Bell, said:
“During World Alzheimer’s Month, we encourage anyone who is worried about their memory to visit their GP. Almost half of Warwickshire residents with dementia are undiagnosed meaning they cannot access information and support available to them.
“We know that many people may be concerned about a dementia diagnosis, but there are many benefits to receiving an early diagnosis; it can help you and your family to understand your symptoms, have access to specialist support and treatment and help you to make plans for, and choices about your future.”
Some of the main benefits of an early diagnosis include:
- An explanation for symptoms that may have been worrying you or your family
- Access to treatments that can improve symptoms and slow down the effects of the disease. Treatments are usually more effective the earlier they are started.
- Access to advice and support. Individuals diagnosed early in their dementia journey can take advantage of early-stage support groups and learn tips and strategies to better manage and cope with the symptoms of the disease.
- Time to prepare for the future and plan ahead. An earlier diagnosis enables the person to participate in their own legal, financial, and long-term care planning and to make their wishes known to family members. It also allows the person the opportunity to prioritise how they spend their time focusing on what matters most to them – perhaps completing life goals such as travel, recording family history, completing projects, or making memories with grandchildren while they still can.
There are two key routes to finding out about dementia and the support services in your local area:
- Dementia Connect in Warwickshire service - access to support from a Dementia Advisor who can provide a range of support as well as information on all the local services in your area – by phone on 0333 150 3456 or by email - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Warwickshire’s Living Well with Dementia website – a resource with a range of information about dementia, a map of services at district and borough level with details of all the services in the area.