Living with dementia: why an early diagnosis could improve your life
A diagnosis of dementia is a life-changing event, but possibly not quite in the way we might imagine.
A study by the University of Kentucky into those with a recent diagnosis of either mild cognitive impairment or early stages of dementia discovered something remarkable.
Almost half of those surveyed reported positive benefits from their diagnosis, including:
- improved personal relationships
- greater appreciation for life
- positive influence on others
- personal inner strength
- changes in life philosophy
The Silver Lining Questionnaire (SQL) also revealed that over 50% of respondents found other positive benefits, including:
- a better appreciation and acceptance of life
- less concern about failure
- tolerance of others
- courage to face problems in life
- new opportunities to meet people
The findings echo the outlook of the US Alzheimer’s Association:
“Life doesn’t end with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. While it can be difficult to remain positive when facing daily challenges, many individuals find that receiving a diagnosis helps them appreciate the gift of time and the value of living in the moment.”
A diagnosis can also help explain changes and symptoms that a loved one is experiencing, but unable to explain. Indeed, they may even be in denial, and dismissing classic signs as “senior moments” or just down to “old age”.
Adjust, assess and adapt
An early diagnosis is important as it enables the person with the diagnosis and those around them to adjust, assess and adapt. For example, as an adult child, you may already think an aging parent may be incapable of driving, taking the right medication or living alone – but find it difficult to broach the subject. A formal diagnosis allows everyone to have more open and constructive conversations, and take precautions early on to avoid harm.
For more benefits of an early diagnosis, see this leaflet from The Alzheimer Society of Canada.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s: spotting the sign
According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, the ten most common warning signs for dementia are:
1. Memory loss
We all forget things like name, but most of us can recall the information a short while later. Early dementia shows as more prolonged and frequent memory loss, which affects every day life and activities.
2. Difficulty with familiar tasks
This covers a range of familiar and often-repeated actions, from dressing preparing a meal.
3. Language difficulties
Again, we can all struggle to find the right word. However, this sign shows as an inability to remember simple words or substituting words such that a sentence doesn’t make sense.
4. Getting lost
Dementia sufferers can lose the ability to recognise familiar locations, such as their home town, favourite shopping centre or even their own street.
5. Lack of judgement
This may show as not recognising a physical illness or putting themselves at harm by making the wrong choices.
6. Issues with abstract thinking
Dementia can affect people’s ability to comprehend symbols and numbers such that they actually don’t recognise what they are or how numbers “work”.
7. Putting things in odd places
OK, we’ve all done it, put the teabags in the fridge instead of the milk, but we usually realise what we’ve done. Dementia sufferers will place items in inappropriate and illogical places with no recollection of why.
8. Major mood swings
These are sudden, abrupt change from calm to angry, happy to floods of tears, with no apparent cause.
9. Personality changes
Early onset dementia can show as’”striking” personality changes, including people becoming withdrawn, fearfull, disinterested and confused.
10. No initiative
“A person with Alzheimer’s disease may become passive and disinterested, and require cues and prompting to become involved.”
You can download a leaflet with more about spotting the early signs from the Alzheimer Society of Canada website here.
and a one page version here.
Home care for seniors with early signs of dementia
At Vytality at Home, we understand the challenges to those living with dementia and their family. One of the major challenges can be that the individual who has a diagnosis of dementia denies the need for help.
With our years of experience in dementia home care, our team can help you navigate these conversations. if you have received a diagnosis, we will help with practical strategies to provide the level of care you need. Many of our caregivers have been dementia care training and are specifically equipped to assist you or a loved one with early dementia.
Contact us to discuss your requirement for home care in Calgary for those with early dementia or Alzheimer’s :