Can I Have Dementia and Not Know It?

Wednesday, 22 May 2013 05:40 PM

By Peter Hibberd, M.D.

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Question: Can a person have dementia and not know it?

Dr. Hibberd’s answer:
 
Dementia is a degenerative process affecting cognitive brain function. Memory loss is prominent in dementia, so you definitely can have dementia without realizing it. Simple forgetfulness is an occasional, normal event, but a regular pattern of memory loss is not normal.
 
The best way to screen for brain or memory dysfunction is to see your doctor for a physical evaluation. Simple quick tests, such as the MMSE — short for the Mini Mental State Examination — help identify any cognitive deficits and can be used as a basis to follow progressive improvement or deterioration.

The best way to tell is to seek professional advice when forgetfulness is first noted. Many medicines are available to help, and in almost all circumstances, results are best when brain function problems are detected and treated as early as possible.

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