• Dr Majella Soumakiyan

Dementia

Updated: Jan 21


“Who do you see when you look at me ?”

I’m not the person I used to be.

At times I will not know your name,

But really I am not to blame.

Dementia has changed a part of me.

The word ‘Dementia’ is only a name,

For a condition that I’ve got.


These are a few lines from a poem called “A Dementia Friend” by Sarah Merriman


What is dementia?

It is a journey that we all dread …..

It is not a normal part of aging! It is a condition where number of illnesses affect the brain and a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks. It is a combination of behavioural and psychological symptoms. Its generally associated with disturbed perception, thoughts, mood and behaviour


Who gets it ?

Dementia can happen to anybody, but it is more common after the age of 65 years.

People in their 40s and 50s can also have dementia.


Did you know how common dementia is?

  • Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia and the first among the women

  • Over four hundred and fifty thousand people live with dementia in Australia. It is expected to increase to over one million by 2058 (Dementia Australia 2018)

  • According to Dementia Australia, 1 in 10 over the age of 65 and 1 in 3 over the age of 80 suffer from Dementia

  • Prevalence of Dementia is 3 times higher in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders


What are the types of Dementia :

  • Alzheimer’s disease

  • Vascular dementia

  • Lewy body disease

  • Frontotemporal dementia

  • Alcohol-related dementia

  • Dementia caused by Huntington’s disease

  • HIV-associated dementia


What are the early signs of dementia?

The early signs of dementia are very subtle and non specific and may not be identified immediately. Some common symptoms may include:

  • Progressive and frequent memory loss

  • Confusion

  • Personality change

  • Apathy and withdrawal

  • Loss of ability to perform everyday tasks


Conditions with symptoms similar to dementia?

  • stroke

  • depression

  • some vitamin deficiencies and hormone disorders

  • alcoholism

  • medication clashes or overmedication

  • infections

  • brain tumour.


How is Dementia diagnosed ?

There is no single specific test to diagnose dementia . The doctor will ask specific set of questions to determine the memory status. An array of blood tests are done to rule out other causes of similar symptoms. This can include blood test, urine test, brain scans, ECG. It is essential to get an early medical diagnosis, when symptoms first appear.


What can be done to help?

Early diagnosis and support is vital for people with Dementia and their carers and family members . Your GP can conduct these initial assessments and investigations and refer you to the specialists. They can also put you in touch with various support groups.

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