You have the feeling that you or your family member is showing the first signs of dementia and you do not know what to do next? The neurologist Dr. med. Peter Hoffacker explains what to look out for now.
Indications of dementia
"In particular, short-term memory and retentiveness are affected from an early stage of the disease," says Dr. med. Peter Hoffacker. Long-term memory is retained longer, so patients often forget appointments while recounting detailed stories from their childhood and youth. Loss of spatial orientation is also common, which can cause the person to get lost.
"In the later course of the disease, it can happen that relatives are no longer recognized or the so-called activities of daily living, such as washing or dressing, can no longer be performed independently," summarizes Dr. Hoffacker together.
If you have observed these signs in yourself or your loved ones, it is time for an appointment with your family doctor. The patient is known there and has often been medically accompanied for years and decades.
If the suspicion of dementia is confirmed, a referral to a specialist in neurology or psychiatry follows, where a detailed anamnesis and further examinations take place. These are, for example, nerve fluid examinations, checks of neuropsychological memory performance or even an MRI of the head. "This is important because there are different forms of dementia and it can also occur as a symptom of another underlying disease, so there may be consequences for medical therapy," explains the specialist.
Some people do not want to see a doctor
Sometimes it happens that the affected person is reluctant to see a* doctor. "Have understanding for this, the eventual diagnosis of dementia is not easy for those affected to cope with and often takes a long time to be accepted," advises Dr. Hoffacker. In any case, you should deal openly with the situation and not try to lure the person into the practice under false pretenses.
Treatment depends on the case
If the diagnosis of dementia has been established, the subsequent therapy depends on the exact manifestation of the disease that has been determined. In most cases, a combination of drug therapy and other measures is taken to delay the progression of the disease, such as occupational therapy, physiotherapy or speech therapy. Referral to special dementia centers is also an option. "For this, you can usually get good information on the relevant hospital websites," notes Dr. Hoffacker to.
Do not forget to take precautions
In addition to the therapies and regular checkups with specialists, the neurologist recommends seeking a power of attorney for care to prevent any legal and organizational obstacles. "In addition, it is advisable to take care of nursing support at an early stage," says the neurologist.
If you have detected the onset of dementia in your family environment, we recommend that you seek independent care advice as soon as possible or contact a special advice center such as the German Alzheimer's Association e. V. to turn. In the consultations, you will be accompanied in planning the next steps and informed about the various options.