Whilst there is no cure yet, early diagnosis of dementia is important in ensuring appropriate supports are put in place and that you, your family and your loved one are given the right information on future planning. Additionally, education about the dementia process, what to expect and how to manage it can be provided to help you to provide the best quality support possible while looking after yourself at the same time. In some cases, your loved one may also benefit from the prescription of medication.
Why is a "label", a "diagnosis" so important? People have different views on this, however, knowing what might be going on for your loved one by "naming" it, can help you, your family and your loved one to better understand why your loved one is acting the way they are. Labelling it as it is, dementia, means that we are less likely to blame the person for acting like they are (e.g. forgetful, aggressive, agitated, anxious, nervous, depressed), and rather blaming the dementia. This separates the person from the dementia and means that we are better able to find ways to support that person as opposed to getting frustrated with them!
So, how do you get a diagnosis?
There is no one straightforward process. Firstly, it is extremely common for people to have difficulty trying to even bring up in conversation with their loved one the fact that they are worried about their memory and thinking, let alone getting them to the GP for a "check-up." The person experiencing the brain changes may be in denial about what is happening to them, and/or extremely frightened.
If you can, encourage your loved one to have a GP appointment for an assessment, particularly to rule out if there are any medical issues that may be contributing to their memory and thinking problems. The GP may then start some cognitive screening and a referral may then be made to a specialist.
If your loved one will just NOT go to the GP, you might find it helpful to:
👉🏻 Speak to us for more information on how to approach the situation and getting a diagnosis
👉🏻 Speak to Dementia Australia
👉🏻 Contact the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) through My Aged Care website
👉🏻 Call the National Dementia Helpline1800 100 500
Brooke George, Occupational Therapist