Dementia symptoms dismissed as ‘just getting old’ – new list of signs you need to know

Steve Thompson recalls signs of his early-onset dementia

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And yet, despite this step change in societal and scientific understanding, many are still dismissing dementia symptoms as signs of “just getting old”, according to new research by a leading charity.

Research has shown dementia symptoms are still being wrongly blamed on just getting old, thus delaying the time for someone to be diagnosed, says the Alzheimer’s Society.

The new survey found one in four people with dementia experience symptoms for up to two years before a diagnosis.

This suggests symptoms of dementia are dismissed as signs of old age rather than as a form of the disease.

As a result, the Alzheimer’s Society has released a list of new symptoms for people to be aware of.

These include:
• Asking the same question over and over again
• Struggling to find the right words or repeating questions and phrases
• Issues with daily living
• Behavioural and emotional problems
• Putting objects in unusual places
• Being unable to learn new tasks
• Having frequent problems finding the right word.

Alongside the new checklist, the Alzheimer’s Society have released a new campaign called: “It’s not getting old, it’s called getting ill.”

This campaign encourages people worried about their memory, or those of their loved ones, to seek support.

Kate Lee, the charity’s chief executive, said: “If you’re worried for yourself or someone you love, take the first step, come to Alzheimer’s Society for support.

“The stark findings of our survey released today show just how dangerous it can be to battle dementia symptoms alone and put off getting help.”

Meanwhile, Dr Jill Rasmussen of the Royal College of Practitioners added: “It’s vital for patients, their families and GPs that conversations with the potential for a diagnosis of dementia are timely and effective.

“The new checklist developed with Alzheimer’s Society is a simple, free tool to help patients and their families clearly communicate their symptoms and concerns during an often time-pressured appointment.”

Even though there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, or other forms of dementia, getting an early diagnosis can be beneficial.

Getting the diagnosis can get someone on existing treatments earlier and give people more time to say goodbye.

Despite the lack of treatments to reverse the condition, scientists are still confident of improvements in this area within the next 10 years.

While this is positive news for patients of the future, it is too late for patients in the present.

Such is the damage caused by Alzheimer’s, the brain of a person with dementia weighs around 140 grams less than a healthy brain – one not affected by dementia; this is about the same weight as an orange.

With more investment scientists hope to improve outcomes.

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