As we near the end of Dementia Action Week, we are again continuing to highlight the importance of a timely diagnosis.

Over the years, dementia diagnosis rates have declined, meaning that more people are facing dementia alone, without access to the vital support that a diagnosis brings. 

Dementia is a syndrome associated with a decline in brain functioning, there are many different types and symptoms. It is not only about memory loss. It can also affect the way you speak, think, feel and behave.

Getting a diagnosis can be daunting, but it is a crucial step towards planning for your future. If you are worried about yourself, or someone close to you, speak with your GP in the first instance.

Dementia Action Week - spot the signs early

Dr Nikki Belsham, Clinical Psychologist/ Clinical Lead for our Memory Assessment Service (MAS) shares the importance of seeking professional support as early as possible, she said:

“Knowing something is wrong with your memory can be scary. Although there are lots of reasons why people have memory problems, the thing everyone worries about is dementia.

Nobody wants a diagnosis of dementia but knowing what you are dealing with can be helpful for both the person themselves and their family and friends. A diagnosis of dementia can mean timely access to treatments and interventions. There are lots of support services and organisations out there to help to help people live well with the condition.

If you have worries about your memory or a loved one’s memory, please make an appointment to see your GP. Your GP can refer to the Memory Assessment Service, where we will meet with you to carry out a comprehensive assessment. 

“We do have a waiting list but we are really excited to launch our new ‘Waiting Well’ initiative, where we will invite you to a group session to help you to prepare for your memory assessment, offering you tips, strategies and practical advice about managing your memory problems and your health and wellbeing.”

Signs and symptoms to look out for

Knowing the things to look out for is the first important step in planning for your future with dementia. Below we have provided the NHS’ guidance on the kinds of things to look out for when it comes to dementia. 

Different types of dementia can affect people differently, and everyone will experience symptoms in their own way. However, there are some common early symptoms that may appear some time before a diagnosis of dementia. These include:

  • memory loss
  • difficulty concentrating
  • finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping
  • struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
  • being confused about time and place
  • mood changes