As we age, it’s normal to worry about our memory. With dementia becoming more and more common, even the mildest potential symptoms create anxiety and worry. If you are becoming more forgetful, it’s important to understand that this does not automatically mean that you have dementia.
In some cases, issues with one’s memory are due to another underlying factors, such as depression, medications, or even stress. With that being said, if you feel as though something isn’t quite right, it’s critical that you visit your doctor. The earlier the diagnosis, the better your chances are of a positive treatment plan in order to plan for the future.
Why You Should Get Checked For Dementia
For starters, if you are not exhibiting any symptoms, it does not make sense to seek screening tests for dementia. In some cases, such as the rare form of Alzheimer’s, known as familial early-onset, genetic testing can be offered in order to determine whether or not someone is carrying the related gene. This is an exception, as carrying this gene means that you will develop Alzheimer’s, however, it’s unclear when the disease will develop.
Since this form of Alzheimer’s only accounts for approximately 5 percent of cases, screening for dementia typically occurs when symptoms develop. If you notice any changes in cognition regarding yourself or a loved one, then testing is most certainly recommended.
Remember, age-related lapses in memory are normal. If you find that your memory lapses are interfering with your daily life or you’re forgetting information that was once well-known, this is when you can raise levels of concern. By getting tested, you can experience a number of benefits, including:
- A reduction in uncertainty: If you are experiencing issues with your memory, then it can create a lot of additional stress on your body and mind. The worry alone can affect your mental wellness. Although your symptoms may be due to dementia, they could also be caused by changes in mood, poor sleeping patterns, and other medical conditions. If you are diagnosed with dementia, this is most certainly hard news to swallow. With that being said, you can feel a sense of empowerment, as uncertainty is reduced and you can focus on a clear plan of action. This will help you or a loved one stay independent for longer.
- Receiving potential treatment: When referring to dementia, it’s critical to remember that this is not one specific condition. Since dementia can be caused by a wide range of diseases, not everyone displays the same symptoms. In some cases, such as vitamin deficiencies, dementia can actually be reversed in most cases. The same is true with side effects of medication or symptoms due to a brain tumor. Although forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia with Lewy bodies cannot be cured, there are medications that can increase one’s quality of life.
Harvard Women’s Health Watch. (2014). Should You Be Tested for Dementia? Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/should-you-be-tested-for-dementia
NHS. (2015). Benefits of Early Dementia Diagnosis. National Health Services. Retrieved from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dementia-guide/pages/dementia-early-diagnosis-benefits.aspx