Early diagnosis keeps your life from unravelling
Did you know that almost half of Canadians affected by dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, wait too long to be diagnosed? A diagnosis helps in so many ways. That’s why we encourage you to see your doctor sooner rather than later. Knowing what you face helps with planning, getting the right medication, care and support. It also helps you and your family prepare for the road ahead.
We're kicking off a new Canada-wide campaign to provide important information for Canadians and their families who may be living undiagnosed with dementia or are worried about developing the disease.
Early diagnosis and recognizing the warning signs go hand in hand. Whether you’re experiencing possible symptoms yourself or are concerned for someone you care about, watch for any of these 10 signs:
1. Memory loss that affects day-to-day function
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks
3. Problems with language
4. Disorientation of time and place
5. Poor or decreased judgment
6. Problems with abstract thinking
7. Misplacing things
8. Changes in mood and behaviour
9. Changes in personality
10. Loss of initiative
Getting the information and support you need as early as possible helps you and your family understand the type of dementia you’ve been diagnosed with and how to manage the challenges it brings. But there are so many other reasons why you should see your doctor if you sense something is wrong:
For some people, the earlier they’re given medication, the more effective treatment can be.
Knowing what you're dealing with is empowering. It helps you make informed and important decisions about your future while you are in the early stages.
The more informed you are, the easier it is for you and your family to take the steps that work best for your situation.
Many other illnesses mimic the common symptoms of dementia. It is important to rule out other illnesses and get an accurate diagnosis.
You can take advantage of the many programs and services of your local Alzheimer Society, including referrals to other helpful resources in your community. Through your local Alzheimer Society, you can also connect with others in similar situations and take part in opportunities to raise awareness or advocate for improved care and research.
Video: Linda Finkbeiner on how early diagnosis can help you to live well with dementia
Myths and misconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease abound. What it is, who gets it, and how it affects the people who have it. These myths stand in the way of understanding the disease and helping those affected.
We can’t stress this enough! That’s why we've made early diagnosis the theme of our awareness campaign. Getting checked early is the best thing you and your family can do to live well with dementia and plan for the future. There are so many benefits to getting a diagnosis and the information you need to make informed decisions about your health.
It's important to make the most of your doctor's visit and not be afraid to ask questions. Try writing down as many details as possible that best describe your changes or concerns. Are you having trouble finding the right words or recognizing people you know? Do you find it more difficult to drive in familiar places? Are you finding it harder to follow conversations or simple instructions?
It's also a good idea to note any medications or supplements you're taking, and be sure to jot down any other questions you want to ask.
To make your doctor's visit easier, download our printable Preparing for your doctor’s visit checklist. We recommend that you complete the list with a family member in case they've noticed symptoms you might have missed.
Mary McKinlay on how early diagnosis can mean access to effective treatment