‘AM I GETTING DEMENTIA?’ Some people ask this question because they have noticed a change in their memory. There are many reasons for older people acquiring symptoms that may raise fears within themselves, in their families, their friends or their doctors about the possibility that they are developing dementia. Subjective concerns about cognitive performance are most frequently due to awareness of normal age-related cognitive change, anxiety, depression and various medical problems such as thyroid underactivity.
Carmel had always been a ‘worrier’; now, at the age of 70 she was concerned that her memory was failing. She complained to her doctor that she kept forgetting the reason that she had gone from one room to another in her home, but admitted that after some minutes it would usually come back to her. She couldn't recall the details of conversations she had with her husband and friends, though she remembered having the conversations. And, of course, she could never remember people's names and that was so embarrassing! Recently, she had felt under some stress. Her older daughter had divorced, her husband had suffered a heart attack though was now well, and a good friend had died.
It is important to get a basic check-up with your doctor if you are in this situation, as there may be a simple explanation for what you have noticed which will respond to treatment. If there is no simple explanation, a dementia assessment may be called for. This assessment aims to determine the cause of the worrying symptoms and to recommend appropriate management.