I keep forgetting things...

Dementia is a condition that affects the brain, causing brain cells to degenerate at a faster rate than normal. It is NOT due to normal ageing. As a result, your mental abilities will decline leading to failing memory, deterioration of intellectual function and personality changes.

Am I having dementia?

Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Recent memory loss that affects your daily life
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty in performing regular daily tasks
  • Personality changes
  • Changes in mood or behaviour
  • Problems with language (not finding the right words or using inappropriate words)
  • Disorientation of time and place
  • Poor or decreased judgement
  • Misplacing things

Why do I get dementia?

There are no known causes of dementia; people with a family history of dementia are only at a slightly increased risk in developing the disease than the general population.  

How can I detect and treat my condition?

If you experience the symptoms described above, consult a medical practitioner for an assessment. Medication

  • There are some new medications that have shown to have a temporary effect in improving mental functioning. Medication can also be helpful for the accompanying depression and anxiety.

Cognitive training

  • Training in using memory aids, such as recording devices, note-taking are encouraged to help you cope with the illness rather than as a treatment to cure the illness.

How can I help my friend or relative who has dementia?

To help your friend or relative, you can pay attention to the following:

  • Improve and learn communication skills to assist with clarifying the confusion of your loved one
  • Be aware of the safety issues for your loved on especially if they live on their own
  • Consider the use of supervised respite care to help manage your loved one  

  1. Will we get dementia as we age?
Growing old doesn’t mean that you will get dementia as it’s not a norm associated with ageing. In fact, only a small percentage of around 5.1% of older people aged 60 years and above, suffer from dementia. There is a difference between memory loss as a part of normal ageing and as a symptom of dementia. An example of normal forgetfulness is attending a social function and forgetting the names of some of the guests the next day. A person with dementia, however, may forget having even attended the function.
  2. I think my loved one has dementia. How do I convince him/her to see our doctor?
It is important not to assume that someone has dementia just because some of the symptoms are present. Strokes, depression, alcoholism, infections, hormone disorders, nutritional deficiencies and brain tumours can all cause dementia-like symptoms. The best place to start the diagnostic process is with the local doctor who, after considering the symptoms and ordering screening tests, may offer a preliminary diagnosis or refer the person to a neurologist, geriatrician or psychiatrist. If he/she is resistant to the idea of visiting a doctor, you can find a physical reason for the visit, for example, a check-up for a symptom that the person is willing to acknowledge, such as headaches or failing eyesight. Be sure to provide a lot of reassurance. A calm, caring attitude at this time can help overcome the person’s understandable worries and fears.