Witnessing memory problems in your loved one can be really scary. You may wonder what’s causing the memory problems and you might find yourself fearing the worst.
Over the past 17 years working with older adults and their families, I’ve seen many individuals and families put off getting an evaluation when there are memory concerns for three common reasons:
- You might see memory problems and think, “well, my loved one is aging, it’s normal to have memory problems.“ (Hear me when I say that there are some minor changes that happen in the brain with age, but significant memory loss and dementia are NOT normal aspects of aging.)
- There is a lot of uncertainty, fear, and grief that happens when we’re diagnosed with a serious, chronic, and terminal illness, which dementia is. As a result, you may want to avoid that pain by NOT pursuing an evaluation for a dementia diagnosis.
- I often hear people say, “well, there’s nothing I can do about dementia. So why even go and get evaluated?“
In today’s episode, I set the record straight about the benefits to early detection of dementia disorders. There’s actually a lot that we can do to make your life and your loved ones life with dementia easier- early detection helps.
I do want to share that while there are many benefits to early detection of dementia, there is indeed a downside to knowing that you or your loved one has a dementia disorder. There’s uncertainty, fear, and grief that happens when we’re diagnosed with a serious , chronic, and terminal illness that can last for years. And that’s what dementia is. It’s painful and unfair.
Even with this said, there are more upsides than downsides to early detection of dementia, and here they are:<
- [04:38] Benefit #1: Early detection of a dementia disorder, provides an explanation for the changes you’re noticing. This helps ease a worried mind.
- [05:42] Benefit #2: The second benefit of early detection of a dementia disorder is that it allows the person with dementia to make decisions early on about what they want their future to look like.
- [06:31] Benefit #3: Better access to medical and mental health care. This is important because the earlier in the dementia process you start medications, the better.
- [07:58] Benefit #4: Early detection has been shown to not only improve quality of life like we just talked about, but increases the chance that that person with dementia will live longer.
- [09:15] Benefit #5: Early detection is correlated with lower rates of institutionalization later in the illness process later in the dementia. Saving you money and heartache.
- [10:00] Benefit #6: Gives family members and caregivers time to adjust and come to terms with the diagnosis and all the care needs to come.
- [11:46] Benefit #7: The seventh benefit of early detection of dementia disorders is that it reduces the risk of you, the caregiver, developing anxiety and depression.
- [12:40] BONUS Benefit: A bonus benefit is that early detection helps you to understand the caregiving landscape and all of the resources that you’re going to need to provide care for your loved one with dementia.
By the end of this episode, you’ll know why early diagnosis of dementia is important and how early diagnosis of dementia helps people living with dementia and their family
Links mentioned in this episode:
- Know the 10 Memory Loss Warning Signs
- 5 Next Steps if You’re Noticing Signs of Memory Loss
- Learn more about benefits of early detection of dementia in my interview with Dr. Vonetta Dotson.
- Grief and Loss During COVID: Anticipatory Grief and Ambiguous Loss
Rasmussen, J. & Langerman, H. (2019)- Alzheimers Disease. Why we need early diagnosis. Degener Neurol Neuromuscul Dis. 2019; 9: 123–130.