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According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are more than 145,000 people in the desert southwest area who suffer from dementia.  But knowing what type of dementia someone is battling can be a key to effective treatment and care.

Many people aren’t aware that many other medical conditions impacting seniors can present as dementia or create dementia type side effects (short term memory loss, confusion, disorientation).  Simple conditions like urinary tract, bladder or kidney infections can have side effects that include cognitive deficits.  This is why seeing your primary care physician is so important the minute you suspect the possibility of dementia.

Another important item that is commonly overlooked is keeping a journal of cognitive events.  If you notice that a loved one is beginning to have memory deficits, confusion, or hallucinations write these events down with specifics, time of day, duration of the event, etc.  This will help your physician identify trends and patterns and help with effective and accurate diagnosis and treatment.

If you do receive a diagnosis of dementia, you will most likely also receive prescribed treatments, possibly including medication.  It will also be important to try and identify a plan of treatment and potential care needs and associated costs.  Joining a support group focusing specifically on dementia can be an invaluable asset as you make plans, avoiding the trial and error that can so often accompany this type of process.

The Alzheimer Association has chapters all across the country to help you care for a loved one with dementia, with local resources and knowledge to help you make the best decision for you and your family.  For help in the desert southwest region, click here and scroll to the Alzheimer’s Association link to get help.  If you aren’t in the desert southwest region, click here to find the local chapter near you.