Experts are urging those worried about their memory to seek help sooner rather than later.
“It is important that when someone has a genuine concern about their memory, or that of a loved one, they act sooner rather than later as this will help in receiving a timely diagnosis,” said Dr Rochford, National Ambassador for Dementia Awareness Week.
“Early diagnosis is important in helping to get the right support, information and treatment,” he said. “Some medications are also at their most beneficial in the early stages of dementia.”
And according to Alzheimer’s Australia, patients also report many benefits in receiving a diagnosis.
“It was a relief to get the diagnosis,” said Fred, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “The worst was not knowing.”
“For me, the medication has helped a lot,” said John also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “It’s lifted the fog.”
According to Brendan Burwood, managing director of ipac’s aged care division, ipac financial care, an early diagnosis can also help people plan their lives including their finances, legal matters and future care needs.
“When it comes to aged care arrangements, we often see a trigger event occur, meaning one of the children has to take control of situation without input from mum or dad,” said Brendan.
“An elderly mum might be in hospital and in need of support. Then, the daughter or son realise Mum can’t live at home anymore, that she’ll need a bed in an aged-care facility.”
“Suddenly, they are confronted with some very hard calls about where to put mum, how to fund aged care arrangements and what to do with the family home. This can be a very confronting and emotional time for the children,” explained Brendan.
“But with an early diagnosis the family has the opportunity to plan ahead, and if they catch it early enough, the person with dementia can be involved too – choosing a power of attorney, planning their estate and making choices about their future care needs.”
“This gives them the dignity of planning their own affairs rather than having decisions made for them in a crisis situation.”
Maria, who was diagnosed with vascular dementia agrees that an early diagnosis helped her plan ahead.
“We are glad we had that early diagnosis,” she said. “We have been given the chance to change our lifestyle activities to match my capabilities and to make definite plans for the future”
For more information on early warning signs and what to do if you’re worried about your memory, visit the Alzheimer’s Australia website here or call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.
Or if you’d like help planning ahead for both the expected and unexpected, contact us or call 1800 626 881.