Beyond diagnosis: a mixed method study of youngerage onset dementia: a work in progress

Buckby, B., Helmes, E., and Smith, A. (2012) Beyond diagnosis: a mixed method study of youngerage onset dementia: a work in progress. In: Papers of International Psychogeriatric Association International Meeting 2012. p. 13. From: IPA 2012: International Psychogeriatric Association International Meeting, 7-11 September 2012, Cairns, QLD, Australia.

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Background While diagnosis of dementias in individuals younger than 65 years is well understood, recognition of the signs appears to be overlooked when the presenting individual is "young". The time lapse to diagnosis is known to be approximately five years, and assistance with daily living of up to four years, slower than for later-age onset.

Aim To track the experience of individuals diagnosed with dementia before 65 years of age as well as the observations and experience of caregivers over time and to develop an information guide for General Practitioners and other health professionals to raise awareness and potentially speedier diagnosis. The study also aimed to monitor cognitive changes through assessment at least one year post diagnosis and again one year later.

Method Study participants were selected from Memory Clinic files. Dyads were selected for interview in this two part study. Cognitive assessments were conducted on individuals assessed at least one year prior to the study to track change over time, and will be repeated after twelve months. Interviews with the individual diagnosed with dementia and their principal care-giver explored the trajectory from recognition of symptoms to final diagnosis.

Findings Reassessment showed all had significantly declined. One person was incommunicative and unable to be reassessed. Early signs in each case included work stress, reliance on colleagues, and stress leave. All had visited GPs due to self and caregiver concerns and told they were too young for dementia thereby delaying early intervention in one case up to 10 years after initial signs were observed. Marital discord or separation had occurred in every dyad.

Conclusion This study showed a lack of awareness by GPs of the early signs of dementia thereby delaying early intervention. Increased awareness is likely to contribute to reduced distress for the individual and better outcomes for marital relationships.

Item ID: 23962
Item Type: Conference Item (Poster)
Keywords: dementia diagnosis; caregivers
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Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2013 00:21
FoR Codes: 17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170102 Developmental Psychology and Ageing @ 70%
17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170199 Psychology not elsewhere classified @ 30%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920202 Carer Health @ 40%
92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920203 Diagnostic Methods @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920299 Health and Support Services not elsewhere classified @ 10%
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