Memory problems can be symptoms of many things, for example, stress, anxiety, depression or the side effects of some medication. It is common for people of all ages to experience forgetfulness.
Forgetfulness is not being able to remember something at a specific time, but probably being able to recall it later. Memory loss from dementia is quite different from occasionally forgetting things.
The 10 warning signs of dementia are:
If you think any of these apply to you or someone you care about, please contact your GP for a full assessment. If you or they do receive a dementia diagnosis, there are many support services available.
Remember that many conditions have symptoms similar to dementia, so it is important not to assume that someone has dementia because they are displaying some of the common symptoms. Many conditions such as stroke, depression, infections and normal ageing can cause dementia-like symptoms.
To start the process of getting a diagnosis you can take action by seeing your GP in the first instance. Some people with dementia symptoms may be reluctant to visit a doctor, or may not be aware that something is wrong.
One way to overcome this is to encourage them to visit the doctor for a physical reason, preferably a check-up for a symptom that the person is willing to acknowledge, such as headaches or failing eyesight. Another way is to suggest that it is time for you both to have a physical check up. It’s important to provide as much reassurance as you can - a calm, caring attitude at this time can help overcome the person’s worries and fears.
No one single factor has been determined as the cause of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. It is likely to be a combination of factors, including age, genetic inheritance and environmental factors.
You can reduce your risk of developing dementia by keeping fit and active, eating well, avoiding smoking and drugs and limiting alcohol, keeping your brain active through activities such as reading, puzzles, card games etc., and remaining socially engaged.
There are 21 local Alzheimers organisations around the country providing information, support, care and education. You can find them here on 0800 004 001.
Most local Alzheimers organisations have support groups where people with dementia and their support person/family/whanāu can meet others in similar situations.
Your family/whanãu and friends are the foundation of a great support system, see here for information on telling them about your diagnosis.
Our links page also provides more information about other organisations and websites which can help.
There is currently no cure for dementia, although substantial resources are being dedicated to research to find a cure or a disease modifying therapy.
There are however a number of ways to manage the condition and provide a quality of life for the person affected by dementia and for their carers. This may involve medication to manage the symptoms of dementia as well as changes to environment, routine and activities. For more detail on this see our fact sheets on managing dementia .
There is strong evidence that people can help to reduce their risk of developing dementia by keeping their mind and body healthy. This means following a healthy diet, stopping smoking and limiting alcohol, keeping physically active, exercising your brain and being socially active.
Alzheimers Disease International release a World Alzheimer Report every year, and the 2014 report included the five ways to potentially reduce the risk of developing dementia.
If you have a parent or sibling with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, there is a slightly higher risk of you developing dementia. However, there are very few families where there is a direct inheritance from one generation to the next. People with young on-set dementia (those under 65) have more of a chance of passing the disease to their children than those who develop dementia later in life.
A range of factors are thought to be responsible for dementia, including age and environmental factors, as well as genetic inheritance. People of all ages, ethnicity and intellectual abilities can get dementia.
Dementia is a result of physical changes in the brain. The way these changes happen and the effect that has on the person varies according to the type of dementia and the individual person affected. More information about the different forms of dementia and how the brain is affected can be found here.
There are a number of ways to manage the symptoms of dementia and provide a quality of life for the person affected by dementia and for their carers. These may involve medication to manage the symptoms of dementia as well as changes to environment, routine and activities. For more detail on this see our fact sheets on managing dementia.
Contact your local Alzheimers organisation to find out what programmes they offer for people with dementia and their carers.
Alzheimer's disease is a common form of dementia and makes up around two-thirds of cases. Other types of dementia include Vascular dementia, Dementia with Lewy Bodies and Fronto-temporal dementia. More information about the different types of dementia is available here.
There are many ways you can support Alzheimers NZ and/or your local Alzheimers organisation, for example, by volunteering, donating, fundraising, leaving a bequest, or by sharing your personal experience of dementia to help others in their journey with dementia.
It is also really important to help spread the awareness.
Alzheimers New Zealand provides a range of helpful resources and information sheets which are available in our booklets and fact sheets section.
Visit your local Alzheimers organisation or phone 0800 004 001 to find out what support groups are available for to people with dementia, their family/whanãu and carers in your area.
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