Early diagnosis can be established when an individual meets current diagnostic criteria for dementia where there is deterioration in cognitive function that interferes with activities of daily living. Patient lives change dramatically when initially diagnosed and may experience feelings of shock, disbelief, anger, loss and grief. However, after this the affected individual and their family members can confirm their suspicions and provides some explanation for the symptoms. It is suggested that screening starts as soon as family members or carers express a concern and not wait for general screening as brain pathologies would have begun well prior to onset of symptoms. Some early indicators include subjective memory impairment (memory problems), mild cognitive impairment (subjective and objective changes in cognitive function) and biomarkers (physical characteristics used to indicate the effects of the condition) of underlying brain cell degeneration are under research but fail to provide early adequate early prediction of dementia development.
The primary purpose of early diagnosis would be to access support and a treatment pathway and care from the time of diagnosis to the end of life care. Pharmacological intervention currently does not change the course of the disease where cholinesterase inhibitors are licenced for a mild to moderate condition and memantime for moderate to severe dementia. They do not affect those with mild impairment or in the stages preceding it. Non-pharmacological interventions like psychological & psychosocial treatment can improve cognitive function, delay hospitalization, reduce carer strain & psychological strain while improving quality of life. Not much attention has been paid to early onset of dementia but it is well established that practical information, financial and legal counseling and emotional support are critical components when diagnosed with dementia. The first 2 World Alzheimer’s Reports of 2009 and 2010 aimed to establish global prevalence and assess the economic effect of the disease.