Improving life with dementia


Improving life with dementia

Maybe somebody pointed out that you are struggling to remember certain things, complete daily tasks or getting easily confused. These can all be concerning symptoms, so perhaps you visited your GP or another doctor such as a neurologist, and they diagnosed you with dementia. Dementia is a syndrome associated with a decline in typical brain functioning. Dementia contains different disorders, as there are many forms of dementia someone can have, such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Despite this, it’s important to remember many people experience changes in memory and general cognition as they age, and this often doesn’t mean that they are suffering from dementia. It is part of the natural ageing process and can be recognised in natural processes such as the menopause. Typically, individuals suffering from dementia can lack self-awareness about their symptoms and cognitive decline, and family members are often first to notice a change rather than the individual themselves. A lack of self-awareness about symptoms is often a key indicator of a problem such as dementia, as opposed to a natural ageing process where an individual typically retains good self-awareness and might instead display mild cognitive impairment.

It can be frightening to receive a diagnosis of dementia. You might feel a variety of emotions about your diagnosis: distress, worry or anger. These are very normal emotions to feel, and it’s important you receive the right support to process these emotions and the symptoms of your dementia. Following diagnosis, assessments will be conducted to assess the severity of your dementia symptoms. One type is a neuropsychological assessment, which we provide here at the London Neurocognitive Clinic. We guide you through tests to assess cognitive, emotional, and behavioural functioning, allowing us to build a picture of your current performance level. We will uncover specific strengths you display, and areas where you are struggling slightly more. It may be beneficial to repeat the assessment process over time to keep track of how symptoms are changing or progressing. Here at the Clinic, we emphasise the importance of a person-centred approach, because every individual has different needs that are required to be met.

When building a picture of your brain functioning, it may be important to speak to close family or friends. As noted earlier, they may have noticed changes from external perspectives that may not be as apparent to individuals themselves. Dementia is a syndrome that can affect daily life, and therefore it is important to enlist the support of others, for both emotional and practical support.

Following neuropsychological assessment, we can begin neuropsychological rehabilitation. This is an intervention that can take many forms and focuses on embracing strengths to accommodate any difficulties you are facing. Neuropsychologists have expertise in understanding how changes in brain functioning can affect the ways people think and feel, and the consequences these thoughts or feelings may have. Through different therapies, we can improve emotional states, by managing and reshaping negative thoughts through different cognitive strategies. These strategies can help give individuals more control over their lives and regain some independence and may also help strengthen relationships with others. This will help individuals regain a good quality of life and get back to doing what they enjoy.

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