Worried About Your Memory?
The word dementia describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease or a series of strokes. Dementia is progressive, which means the symptoms will gradually get worse.
Becoming a bit more forgetful does not necessarily mean that you have dementia. Many people notice that their memory becomes a bit less reliable as they get older – for example they might forget someone’s name. Memory loss can also be a sign of stress, depression or certain physical illnesses. For a factsheet on dementia, please click on the link at the bottom of the page.
Diagnosing dementia is often difficult, particularly in the early stages. The GP is the first person to consult. The GP may then refer the person being diagnosed to a specialist consultant.
Assessments can include conversations with the person being diagnosed and those close to them, a physical examination, memory tests and/or brain scans.
The General Practitioner Assessment of Cognition (GPCOG) evaluation is a screening tool for cognitive impairment and has been designed for the primary care setting. The doctors at Westcourt use this to assess possible cognitive impairment.
The Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) is also a commonly used test for complaints of memory problems or when a diagnosis of dementia is being considered.
If you are concerned that your memory, or a close friend or relative’s memory, is getting noticeably worse, you should discuss your concerns with your GP as early as possible. You can ask at reception for a copy of our 'Dementia Concern' questionnaire, or download a PDF version below. If you don't have a printer at home, ask your friends or family to print a copy for you.
You can also call the Alzheimer's Society National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122 for information, advice and support about dementia.