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Taipei City Hospital


Something you don’t know about dementia: symptoms other than amnesia

       Mr. Lin, a 57-year-old male, found that he was not able to express himself clearly two years ago. He described “toast” as “a piece of food that we eat for breakfast” and “keys” as “the thing you use for opening the door.” He had not given this much attention, however, since he was still able to manage his work and daily life independently. It was only after his family found that his functional ability had decreased that he sought medical advice two years later.

       After a series of examinations, Mr. Lin was diagnosed with dementia by the neurologist, Dr. Yi-Jung Lee, at the Taipei City Hospital’s Renai Branch. Compared with memory loss and other cognitive impairments such as the aforementioned language functions and social behaviors, these are usually considered tiredness or emotional issues by the patients and their families, and therefore delay people from seeking medical advice and thereby receiving early diagnoses and intervention.

       According to the latest clinical diagnostic criteria (the 5th edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), besides the decline in learning memory, declines in language, executive function, attention, social cognition and performing, as well as visual and spatial function can contribute to the likelihood of dementia. Therefore, it is suggested to the public to be aware that if you have discovered that your close family members and friends have the following conditions, they could be early warning signs of dementia: less fluent speech; not able to remember the names of common items; decline of ability to use items; poorer attention spans and judgment; loss of interest in their normal activities, they should seek professional medical assistance early, arrange comprehensive examinations and be treated according to the disease conditions. By early detection and intervention, the deterioration of certain symptoms are expected to be delayed.