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Dementia: Two of the ‘first problems’ that are not memory loss – symptoms

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Speaking exclusively to, pharmacist Phil Day explained: “Dementia is thought to be caused by the abnormal build-up of proteins in and around brain cells. “As brain cells become affected, certain parts of the brain shrink, usually beginning with regions responsible for memory.” However, in some cases, “the first problems may be with vision or language”.

Pharmacist Day added: “As the disease progresses, hallucinations, anxiety and personality changes become more common.”

While there is no cure for the disease, which currently affects around 850,000 people, there are advantages to an early diagnosis.

“It’s believed that delaying the onset of dementia by five years would halve the number of deaths from the condition,” said Mr Day.

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) elaborated on why an early dementia diagnosis is important.

“An early diagnosis opens the door to future care and treatment,” said the SCIE.

“It helps people to plan ahead while they are still able to make important decisions on their care and support needs and on financial and legal matters.

“It also helps them and their families to receive practical information, advice and guidance as they face new challenges.”

As the disease progresses, the symptoms of dementia get worse, impacting daily living.

Dementia symptoms

Alzheimer’s Research UK pointed out the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease – the most common form of dementia.

Typical memory problems include forgetting recent events, names, and faces.

Aside from memory issues, confusion about the time of day could become apparent.

Other warning signs can include:

  • Regularly misplacing items or putting them in odd places
  • People may be unsure of their whereabouts or get lost
  • Problems communicating or finding the right words
  • Some people become low in mood, anxious or irritable.

Approximately one in six people over the age of 80 have dementia, with Alzheimer’s being the most common form of the disease.

“There are a number of factors thought to increase the risk of developing the condition,” said Mr Day.

Some risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease are preventable while others are not.

“Age, gender, and a genetic predisposition to the disease are unavoidable,” the pharmacist stated.

“Women and those over 65 are most susceptible; there are twice as many women diagnosed with Alzheimer’s than men.

“However, you can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by taking measures to improve your health in general.”

Mr Day recommends not smoking, to drink less, eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and to manage your weight.

Phil Day is a Superintendent pharmacist at Pharmacy2u.

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