Are you concerned that you or someone you love is showing signs of dementia? If so, the benefits of early diagnosis of dementia are significant. There are some treatments for dementia, including medications and psychosocial interventions. Without a diagnosis, there’s no way to benefit from them.
The idea of getting a dementia diagnosis can be intimidating. Many people fear the thought of losing independence if they suspect they have dementia or facing increased caregiving responsibilities if they suspect it in someone they care for.
Dementia affects not only people with dementia, but also their families and the people who care for them. In many cases, certain lifestyle and environmental adaptations are needed at some point along the disease journey. About 3.4 million adults over 71 have dementia, almost 14 percent of that population.
The good news is that there are ways to maximize wellbeing while living with dementia, and no one should have to face the challenges of dementia alone.
The benefits of early diagnosis of dementia should not be underestimated. Evidence suggests that when families feel well prepared and supported, initial feelings of grief are replaced with ones of reassurance and empowerment.
Getting a diagnosis at early stages of the disease has three significant benefits:
- Enabling people with dementia and those who care for them to prepare for disease progression,
- Giving people with dementia the opportunity to make legal and financial decisions while they are still able to, and
- Giving people with dementia a better chance to benefit from drug and non-drug treatments that may delay disease progression and enhance their quality of life.
Dementia is increasingly gaining attention at the national and international levels as an important health care issue, and there are now many resources and supports available for both people with dementia and their caregivers, including these from the National Institutes on Aging. You should also contact your local area agency on aging to learn about community supports and services. With proper planning and knowledge about the resources available, it is possible to help yourself or a loved one maximize happiness and independence while living well with dementia.