Clinicians at the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are raising awareness of the early signs of dementia and the importance of getting early diagnosis by their GP. They say detecting dementia early is important as some causes of dementia are treatable and fully or partially reversible, depending on the nature of the problem. It can also mean that people and their families have access to the support they need as well as plan for the future.
Identifying dementia early and improving care for those with the condition remains a national priority. According to NHS England there are almost 5,000 people living with dementia in north east Essex.
Dr Mark Roberts, Elected Member at North East Essex CCG and GP at the Tiptree Medical Centre, said: “It is important that people get an early diagnosis which opens up access to the right health and social care services. It is possible to live well with dementia and there is strong evidence that an early diagnosis helps someone with dementia to continue to live independently in their own home for longer. However if people are not diagnosed, they will not receive the support they need.”
Early signs of dementia can be mild and barely noticeable, or maybe mistaken for something else. However it can include problems with memory, finding it hard to recall words, dates, names or recent events, finding it hard to follow a conversation, difficulty in making decisions as well as forgetting time or what day of the week it is as well as increased confusion, reduced concentration, personality or behaviour changes and the loss of ability to do everyday tasks.
Later symptoms often continue to get worse over time. This may happen slowly, or in sudden steps every few months or years but can be significant, slowness of thought, feeling disorientated and confused, memory loss and difficulty concentrating, severe personality changes such as becoming aggressive, depression, mood swings and lack of interest or enthusiasm, finding it difficult to walk and keeping balance with frequent falls or loss of bladder control.
Dementia may be a progressive disease, but help is available once patients are diagnosed.
Stephanie Rea, Senior Manager of Service Improvement at Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, said, “If you are diagnosed, you can expect to receive a range of support, including medication, non-medical interventions such as cognitive stimulation therapy, advice about managing financial affairs and access to a 24-hour helpline.”
If you feel that someone you know may be suffering or worrying about their memory then you should encourage them to speak to their GP. Even if you feel there symptoms are minimal or even more advanced they should speak to their GP as soon as possible to either rule out a diagnosis or get that support they need.
Remember an early diagnosis can help people manage their symptoms, make plans and prepare for the future. With treatment and support, many people are able to lead active, fulfilled lives.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Media enquiries: Please contact the CCG’s Communications team on 01206 918653.