Life after dementia diagnosisPosted on: 12 November 2018 by 50connect Promotions
Dr Alexandra Phelan examines how prescription medication may help relieve some of the symptoms and slow the progress of dementia
Dementia is one of the most distressing and, for many of us, terrifying conditions we can face. The prospect of a steady decline into memory loss as our loved ones look on doesn’t bear thinking about. People are twice as afraid of losing their cognitive skills as they are about losing physical abilities.
For years it has seemed a spectre we can do little to prevent. But one in three cases of dementia could be prevented if more people looked after their brain health throughout life, according to a recent international study in the Lancet.
It lists nine key risk factors including lack of education, hearing loss, smoking and physical inactivity. Together these ‘modifiable’ risk factors add up to 35%, the other 65% of dementia risk is thought to be non-modifiable.
While the exact cause isn’t known, age is one major factor - it affects an estimated one in 14 people over 65, and one in every six people over the age of 80. The other non-modifiable risk factor seems to be a family history of the condition - early red flags are usually minor memory problems, such as forgetting about recent conversations, events or the names of things.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, which affects multiple brain functions, including memory. It is a progressive condition with symptoms becoming more and more severe over time. It is a life-limiting illness and on average people with Alzheimer’s disease live for between eight to 10 years after they start to develop symptoms.
But just because you do have a family history, or you are ageing, doesn’t mean the die is cast. Making positive changes such as not smoking, exercising, eating healthily and treating high blood pressure will not only reduce your risk of dementia, but also of cancer and heart disease and improve your quality of life, so perhaps see the prospect of dementia as a positive trigger.
There’s no single test that can be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. Your doctor will ask questions about any problems you are experiencing and often perform some basic blood tests to rule out other conditions.
The sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner you could discuss treatment options. As with most conditions, the earlier a diagnosis the better in terms of starting to combat its development and symptoms.
Pharmacy2U offers online ordering and free, convenient home delivery of NHS repeat prescriptions, helping to take the strain off when you and your family might appreciate it most. The free reminder service also helps patients by letting them know when it is time to reorder their medication so it is delivered before they run out.
Specialist Memory Clinics can not only help manage the symptoms of the disease, but can also help provide support for both patients and their families, such as providing adaptations for the home or support groups for carers.
Dementia is currently forecast set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to part of that statistic. And if it does strike you or someone you know, the sooner you reach out for support, the better.
Dr Alexandra Phelan is a GP with the NHS and Pharmacy2U, an online service which provides free and convenient delivery of NHS repeat prescriptions. Manage your repeat prescriptions by going to www.pharmacy2u.co.uk/NHS or telephone 0800 031 9162
*Information provided by the NHSBSA.
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