What to do if you suspect Alzheimer’s or dementia

If your older adult is behaving oddly or showing signs of cognitive impairment, like memory or judgement problems, you might wonder if it’s part of normal aging or if they could have Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Nobody wants to admit that someone they care about could have such a devastating condition. And even though you’re worried, you might think it’s useless to get a diagnosis because there’s no cure.

But ignoring what’s happening isn’t going to make it go away. We share 5 important reasons why a complete medical exam and proper diagnosis of their symptoms will improve your older adult’s quality of life.

5 benefits of an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia

1. It might not be Alzheimer’s or dementia at all
Signs of memory or cognitive issues don’t always mean someone has Alzheimer’s or dementia. There are many treatable health conditions that cause dementia-like symptoms, like UTI, normal pressure hydrocephalus, hospital-induced delirium, or medication side effects.

If your older adult doesn’t see their doctor for a full physical exam, they won’t know what’s causing their symptoms. Nobody should have to lose quality of life because of a condition that could be treated.

2. Maximize benefits from available treatments 
An early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or detection of dementia means that treatment can begin right away. Medications and lifestyle changes are often more effective in the early stages and can reduce or delay the onset of more severe symptoms.

3. Have time to plan for the future
Getting a specific diagnosis gives your older adult control over their own future. While they have good cognitive function, they can make key decisions about their future care and finances, like choosing someone to be power of attorney and signing essential legal documents.

They’ll also be able to share their end-of-life wishes. That way, you and the rest of the family won’t have to guess, fret, or argue about what you think they would want when that time comes.

4. Pursue lifelong dreams before symptoms become too severe
With an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia, older adults will still have time to work on their “bucket list” items, fulfilling lifelong dreams while they still can.

5. Get support and resources
When you don’t know what’s causing troubling behaviors and symptoms, it’s tough to find support and resources to deal with what’s happening. With a specific diagnosis, you’ll be able to find the information you need to understand and manage day-to-day challenges.


Bottom line

It’s scary to admit that your older adult might have a serious health condition like Alzheimer’s or dementia. But facing it head-on and getting a diagnosis allows seniors to quickly regain their lives if it’s a treatable medical condition.

If their condition does turn out to be Alzheimer’s or dementia, getting a specific diagnosis as early as possible gives everyone time to plan for the future and find support.



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