Singapore

Detect early, medicate to slow down dementia

One in 10 Singaporeans above 60 suffer from it.

But dementia is not a normal part of ageing and you should be on alert as soon as the early symptoms appear, said Dr Philip Yap, senior consultant and director of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital's geriatric centre.

"Many people think it's part and parcel of ageing but it's not. Seek medical advice as soon as you see a decline in someone's ability and memory," he added.

Dementia is a disease that affects the brain, causing the cells to die at a faster rate.

As a result, the mental abilities of the person with dementia decline, leading to failing memory, deterioration of intellectual function and personality changes.

Dr Yap said early diagnosis will allow for appropriate actions such as arranging for day care, caregiver education and support, as well as medication.

"If detected early, medication and proper care will help slow the progress of dementia in a patient. It also gives the family time to prepare."

Those who are suffering from middle or advanced stages of dementia should not be left alone, he advised.

TELLING SIGNS

  • Forgetfulness and short-term memory problems.
  • Decline in ability to carry out daily chores such as cooking.
  • Poor judgment, such as buying inappropriate things or unable to count money.
  • Neglecting personal hygiene such as not shaving or showering.