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Al's Way

Local Resources for Younger People With Dementia in Wyre Forest

Dave and Dawn Edmonds - Happy Times in Wales

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It is important to diagnose the type of dementia as accurately and as early as possible, in order to provide individuals & their families with comprehensive information, and access to appropriate support & treatment. As younger people with dementia are an extremely hetrogeneous population, and the impact on the individuals and families is profound, specialist assessment is deemed essential (Department of Health 2001). Assessment needs to be accurate, comprehensive, multidisciplinary and co-ordinated (Alzheimer's Disease Society 1991,1995; Cox 1991), but the experience of individuals and carers is often one of 'Falling through the net' (Cox 1991, p. 76)

In the absense of a clear care pathway and established protocols between primary and secondary care, younger people with dementia, their families and general practitioners access specialist assessment and diagnosis via different routes (Cox 1999; Clarke 2000). Clinical diagnosis is a core component in assessment, but reasearch shows that this may be made by many different specialisms, including adult psychiatry and neurology (Allen & Baldwin 1995). More recently the Royal College of Phychiatrists (1999) has established a position statement that makes the case for diagnosis to be undertaken by a consultant, based in old-age psychiatry but specializing in younger people, who would be able to draw on the department's resources and expertise related to dementia, and manage clinical care more appropriately

Assessment usually includes a detailed individual & family history, magnetic resonance imaging scans, blood tests, electroencephalograms, neuropsychological tests, lumbar punctures and very occassionally a brain biopsy.

This extract is reproduced with kind permission of Maria Parsons from her excellent chapter 11 in the book entitled Dementia Care by Trevor Adams & Jill Manthorpe (2002)

An MMSE (Mini-Mental Status Examination), will also be conducted, and repeated to determine the diseases advancement

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