Recognising dementia

Would you recognise the early warning signs of dementia? Would you know what to do?

Investigation by three Nursing students, Julia Gilbert, Katie Lane and Sara-Jayne Lind, under the supervision of Dr Jean Ross, identified that Waikouaiti community residents have various health needs. Of particular concern is that the decline in memory or thinking skills with the onset of dementia for many individuals as they age. More than 30% of the Waikouaiti population of 1,125 were over the age of 65. In rural communities like this one 7.1% of elderly people will develop dementia, compared with only 5.4% in urban areas.

The Ministry of Health advises that early detection of dementia is key to ensuring that appropriate support mechanisms are put in place. The students therefore decided that it would be valuable for the whole community of Waikouaiti to increase their awareness of the early warning signs:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily tasks
  • Difficulty problem solving or planning
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Wandering
  • Misplacing things

The students designed an affordable fridge magnet which sets out these five early warning signs of dementia, and who to contact. The fridge magnets have been produced, and will shortly be distributed to Waikouaiti homes, cafes and shops.

Image credit (above): Oscar F Hevia, used under Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

September 2018