As a condition that significantly reduces a patient’s quality of life, dementia is one of the most worrying pathologies affecting the older adult population today. Research into the prevalence of unrecognized dementia is still in its early stages. Despite this, the medical community is beginning to recognize that there is a need to screen older adults to catch dementia before its onset. Although this doesn’t prevent the onset of the condition, an early diagnosis or spotting the key warning signs is an effective way to provide interventions that make the patient’s quality of life better. As with any screening test, there is a need to make sure that this process is minimally invasive—both physically and psychologically. This is why MemTrax has been developed as a simple, fast, and anonymous test. It allows you as an individual to detect some of the memory problems that could act as an early indication of dementia.
Recognizing the Signs of Dementia
Some of the most prominent signs of dementia only become apparent once the condition is in is later stages. At the earlier stages of dementia, these symptoms are easily written off as one-off incidents. For example:
- Forgetting that you have left a pan on the stove. This is something you could write off as a simple mistake, but could also be a sign of dementia.
- Confusing words or failing to remember them. You could easily mistake this for fatigue, or a natural part of the aging process.
- Changes in mood or behavior. You, or your family members, may confuse these symptoms with conditions like depression.
This non-exhaustive list of dementia symptoms illustrates how you can fail to miss the key signs until they become so prevalent, you must take notice. MemTrax tracks your responses to true positives and true negatives, as well as your response times. The test is just four minutes long, and it uses images and memorization exercises to help determine whether your memory is functioning fully. This makes it more in-depth than most memory tests. If your results are abnormal, you can contact a clinician for further evaluation.
Exercising Your Memory to Prevent the Onset of Dementia
As evidence continues to grow that exercising your brain and memory can prevent dementia, more people are indulging in learning throughout their adult years, rather than letting the learning process stop at college. Those who are already suffering from neurogenerative disorders, as well as people who want to prevent their onset, can engage in art therapy. Art therapy helps to promote new ways of communication through creativity. As the creative centers rest in the right side of the brain, it also promotes neurodevelopment in areas previously untouched. Taking time to look at images in art textbooks is not only soothing and relaxing but it provides a connection with art. As many who suffer from neurogenerative disorders find themselves becoming frustrated, this is a welcome outlet. Other forms of creativity can promote this process. For example, writing, and listening to music from your younger years. As these forms of therapy are fluid learning rather than rigid programs, they are usually enjoyable for patients and older adults.
The Principles Behind Early Screening and Therapy
Dementia is notoriously difficult to diagnose in primary care settings when it is in its early stages. Like mortality, dementia prevalence increases with age. It is well-recognized that the earlier you can detect dementia, the better the patient’s quality of life is. Enhanced quality of life can be achieved through:
- Medications: Drugs like Aricept can help the neurons in the brain communicate with each other. This makes day-to-day living more enjoyable.
- Nutrition and lifestyle intervention programs: Healthier eating and living can prevent a rapid onset of memory loss and help the patient retain function.
- Non-drug interventions: Memory games and exercises can help the patient to retain their neurological functions. These interventions can be used with or without drugs.
The earlier all of these interventions begin, the easier it is for clinicians to work with patients and their families to provide a better quality of life. In an age of enhanced screening, being able to use an anonymous and rapid tool like MemTrax can help older adults find peace-of-mind, or help. Dementia is common in older adults, but the full range of risk factors is not yet understood. Taking a test in your home is more convenient than visiting a clinician, and can prompt you to consult a professional if your results indicate this is necessary.