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Memory Changes and Dementia

Dr. Rhynold

By Elizabeth Rhynold MD, Saint John Area

Have you ever lost your car keys? Or forgotten someone's name? Common questions like these may cause people, over time, to wonder if this type of memory loss is a normal part of aging or if it could be something more - like dementia. 

There are an estimated 13,000 people in New Brunswick living with dementia and approximately 7 New Brunswickers develop dementia every day. By the year 2038, the number of people with dementia is expected to double. 

Dementia Page EN

Horizon Health Network now has a booklet series dedicated to dementia outlining early diagnosis, signs and symptoms and living with the disease. This Dementia Trilogy is written by local health-care professionals who work daily with people affected by the disease and includes: 

  • An Introduction to Dementia - lists the earliest signs of dementia and helps answer some of the more common questions such as what is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer's disease?
  • The Dementia Compass - offers tips to help a person with dementia go about their day-to-day activities. It also describes the personality changes associated with symptoms of dementia.
  • Later in the Dementia Journey - provides information and support to help dementia patients focus on comfort in the later stages of the disease. 

Click here to access  Dementia Trilogy.

About Dementia

Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability over time that is severe enough to interfere with daily life, for example memory loss. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia.

Changes in function occur slowly so it can be difficult to recognize. Dementia progressively worsens over time. The following tasks may prove difficult for someone with early dementia:

  • Recalling recent conversations and instructions.
  • Sorting papers to pay bills or taxes.
  • Driving to unfamiliar places.
  • Doing jobs or hobbies that require exact measurements and concentration.
  • Following conversations with multiple people.

These changes become more common with increasing age but can happen to people in their 40's or 50's. According to a  2012 survey by the Alzheimer Society, close to 50% of Canadians lived a year or more with their symptoms before seeing a family physician. Of these, 16% waited more than 2 years. A delayed diagnosis results in a huge treatment gap and prevents people from getting valuable information about medications, support and better disease management.

It is important to get help and information if you are worried about memory changes. The first step is to talk to your family physician or primary health-care professional. They can help determine if the cause of memory impairment is dementia.

If your memory changes are due to dementia, medications are now available to slow down the progression. If dementia has developed, it is important to learn more about what needs to get done now and how to prepare for the future.

For more information and support resources on dementia, including one-on-one and group support, contact the Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick by calling 1-800-664-8411 or visiting their website at www.AlzheimerNB.ca .

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