Memory Problems? A GP perspective

Memory problems are very common especially as you get older. So what do you do if you, or someone close to you, starts to get forgetful? We asked GP Richard Miller for some advice for people who are considering whether their forgetfulness is a little more than a normal part of ageing:

How significant is it?

We can all forget names and places, but if it is happening on a regular basis, getting worse, worrying you or having an impact on your life, then it is time to get some help.

Talk to your GP

Most people who come to see me as a GP worry that they have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease but not all memory problems are due to these. It can be due to conditions like infections, lack of vitamins or depression. Your GP will want to ask you more about how long it has affected you and about your general health. Your doctor may also perform a simple memory test to assess your memory as well as possibly arranging some blood tests and maybe a brain scan.

What Next?

Depending on the results of the tests, you may need some medical treatment or further tests. If your GP feels that you have a significant memory problem, then you will probably be referred to the memory clinic for further and detailed assessment. The memory clinic will then be able to help and support you and your family as well as possibly starting you on some tablets to help boost your memory if appropriate.

It is far better to ask and find out than to worry. Your GP is a good place to start.

At Bright Shadow we believe that a diagnosis is a positive thing if you are living with dementia. A diagnosis means that both the person with dementia and their spouses, children and other family members can get the vital support they need to live well with dementia.

One of these support services is Bright Shadow’s Zest Thanet project for people living with dementia or memory problems (no diagnosis needed) in Thanet, Kent. You can find out more here.

If you live in Kent and need some advice and support, you can call a 24 hour helpline on 0800 500 3014 or visit http://dementiafriendlykent.org.uk/ to find out what support is available to you locally.

If you live outside of Kent, going to your GP, local Age UK centre or Alzheimers Society branch will be great places to start to find information and support.