sailor girlFacts About Dementia (Alzheimer's Disease)

Relatives and caregivers frequently play an important part in the process of identifying illness and seeking diagnosis.   They are often the ones, with daily contact, who first become aware of the changes in someone's personality and behaviour.

When considering a diagnosis that might be dementia, a GP may refer on to a Consultant in Learning Disability or a Psychogeriatrician.  All possible causes for changes in behaviour must be considered.  For example, hypothyroidism, depression, even a chest infection can cause symptoms similar to dementia, but they are treatable. Clearly, full medical assessment is important.

Diagnosis of dementia comes about through a process of eliminating other possible causes of changes in mood and behaviour whilst also clarifying more specific symptoms, such as memory loss.

When dementia is diagnosed, it can come as a blow to family and friends. It can be a great shock: a disappointment that brings fear for the future.   As yet, there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease.  However, much can be done to ease the impact of the illness, and to maintain the best possible lifestyle for those affected.

Individuals with DS and dementia may or may not themselves be aware of the changes that are taking place.   Difficulties arising may or may not cause them frustration.  In any case it's important to work with them: listening, respecting their views, and maintaining their dignity.


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