Dr Sunil Gupta explains the signs and symptoms of dementia

Dr Sunil Gupta explains the signs and symptoms of dementia

By Cambridge News  |  Posted: February 13, 2015
Dr Sunil Gupta
Dr Sunil Gupta
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According to Alzheimer’s Society, there are currently around 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and this figure is set to rise to a million by 2021.
However, fewer than half of people living with dementia in the UK have a diagnosis. By raising awareness about the condition it is hoped that more people will recognise the signs and symptoms and see their GP.
It is important to get a diagnosis so that patients and their families can better understand and manage the condition.
Dr Sunil Gupta, GP and Clinical Advisor for Dementia (Midlands and East) at NHS England has written a series of articles to help raise awareness of dementia.

In his second one, he explains what to look out for and when to see a GP.

Dementia is a progressive condition, which means it gets worse over time, and, currently, there is no cure. However, with a timely diagnosis, there is every opportunity for people with the condition to continue to lead a full and active life and delay dementia from progressing for as long as possible. It’s therefore vital for people to be aware of the symptoms of this condition, so that they can consult their GP sooner rather than later.
Common symptoms
There is a combination of symptoms that contribute towards dementia which may develop gradually over time. Symptoms can vary depending on what type of dementia a person has and what stage it is at.
One common symptom is memory loss. This could include problems remembering recent events, such as forgetting messages, remembering routes or names, or asking the same questions repeatedly. Occasional examples of this need not be alarming, as they can be a natural part of getting older, but if they do become more frequent, it’s important to seek medical advice.
Other symptoms may include:
•finding it difficult to organise or plan simple tasks
•becoming confused in unfamiliar environments
•difficulty in finding the right words
•finding it hard to deal with numbers, including handling money in shops
•forgetting about recent conversations or events
•becoming slower at grasping new ideas
•showing poor judgement, or find it harder to make decisions
•losing interest in other people or activities
•unwilling to try out new things or adapt to change
•becoming depressed
•noticing a change in personality
When should you see a GP?
If you recognise any of these symptoms, either in yourself or in a friend of relative, then it’s important that you see your GP, or encourage your friend or relative to see their GP, as soon as possible. Often, symptoms of dementia can be similar to those of other conditions, such as depression or an underactive thyroid. By visiting your GP, they will be able to provide and assessment and eliminate any other possible conditions.
Support is out there
If dementia is diagnosed, there are a range of organisations on your doorstep that can offer excellent support to the patient and the carer alike, to ensure that you are not alone. With a timely diagnosis and the right care and support, living with dementia need not be a terrifying experience.
Talk about it
There is still a big stigma around dementia. It’s understandable that people can be worried at the prospect of developing the condition themselves, or caring for a loved one. Dementia isn’t often spoken about, just as cancer wasn’t 20 years ago, but with media coverage, high profile support from the Prime Minister and growing support networks in communities, it’s increasingly in the public eye.
We want to encourage more people to talk about dementia so they can become more aware and better understand, should a friend or family member develop the condition in the future.
Help is out there
If you are concerned that you or a friend or relative has dementia, it’s important that you talk to your GP. You can also find information, advice and support in your area via the following:
National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122



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