“What is dementia?”

The term “dementia” means trouble with thinking and memory that chronically interferes with someone’s independence
As we age, dementia becomes more common
Because dementia affects 10% of people 65+, and because the percent affected increases with age, we recommend that people over the age of 65 get an annual dementia screening test. Primary care physicians are experienced in providing such screening tests and can do this annually. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. It accounts for about 70% of dementia cases.
What are the early signs of dementia?

One early sign of dementia is that the individual demonstrates increased anxiety. If a person who otherwise is not a generally anxious person develops new onset anxiety after age 65, screening that person for dementia is a sound practice.

You may also notice that the individual becomes less descriptive in their conversation, due to a loss of word-finding ability.

It’s common for people with dementia to become more interested in routine. It’s a coping mechanism to become invested in familiar daily tasks, and they become apathetic to new activities. Sometimes people misinterpret apathy as depression. Apathy means lack of interest in doing things, whereas depression should be associated with sadness.


Common symptoms of dementia

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty managing medications
  • Difficulty managing finances
  • New anxiety in someone without a history of being anxious
  • Loss of insight
  • New difficulty driving or getting around
  • Social withdrawal without necessarily being sad
  • Difficulty finding words
Be proactive and get the correct diagnosis
Make an appointment with the patient’s primary care physician for a cognitive assessment.

The Everett Clinic and Polyclinic doctors are specifically trained to diagnose dementia, so there’s no waiting to see a specialist. If positive, the doctor will explain the diagnosis. They will also refer you to our Memory Health Support team to coordinate a care plan and resources for ongoing support.