Gorleston GP’s message for dementia awareness week.

A GORLESTON GP has spoken out about the importance of diagnosing dementia early ahead of a national awareness week designed to improve understanding of the condition.

Dr Ardyn Ross has urged anyone concerned about memory problems to seek professional health advice.

Meanwhile, Dr Ross has also advised carers or anyone who has been recently diagnosed to make the most of the psychological help available through local support groups.

The call comes ahead of national dementia awareness week, which begins on Sunday July 3 and amid predictions that Great Yarmouth and Waveney faces a sharp rise in the number of people suffering with dementia over the coming years.

Dr Ross, who is a GP at Gorleston Medical Centre and the mental health lead for HealthEast CIC, said: “As we get older, difficulties with memory are not uncommon and people will forget names or what they went upstairs to fetch. That information will often come back to them a little later, which is quite normal.

“It is when you stop getting that delayed response, or your relatives and carers start noticing your personality change, you lose the thread of conversations, forget recent events, get lost in familiar environments or struggle to remember names of familiar objects or people that you should seek advice from a health professional.

“Early diagnosis also means you can consider nominating a power of attorney and start planning for the future, which is really important as you can let your relatives know what sort of care you would like to receive when you become more unwell.

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“In addition, early diagnosis means that both you and your carers can start getting appropriate psychological support, which is incredibly important.”

Dr Ross said that following general healthy lifestyle advice, such as eating a balanced diet, giving up smoking and taking regular exercise, can help people avoid some types of vascular dementia later in life.

However, she added that it is important not to ignore any symptoms which do arise, as they could be caused by other conditions which are easy to treat.

“As dementia can’t currently be cured, people sometimes wonder what the point is of getting a diagnosis. I strongly believe there is power in knowledge, and a diagnosis can help people to start looking at their lives.

“It could also help rule out other conditions which cause memory disturbance, such as B12 deficiency and thyroid problems, both of which are very treatable.”