Dementia research at University of Calgary could help with early detection and treatment
Behaviour changes, not memory lapses, could be an early indicator of larger issues to come
Researchers at the University of Calgary believe there are early detection signs for dementia that have little to do with memory and a lot to do with behaviour.
Dr. Zahinoor Ismail is the lead researcher and said he and his team have developed a checklist for doctors and family members that ask questions about mood, anxiety and social behaviour.
That checklist can lead to patients receiving anti-dementia medication far sooner than they currently do.
"In the longer-term, if we capture these people early, and then you wonder, if we actually give them anti-dementia drugs that we've been giving too late because we're diagnosing dementia too late, if we give them very early can we prevent or hasten the onset of cognitive-decline dementia?" said Ismail.
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The project started four years ago, and led to the creation of a rating scale that was easy enough for family members to use.
The rating scale looks for changes in mood that could be signs of a larger problem.
Ismail said his research does not mean that just because grandma is grumpy she'll eventually have dementia, but if she is behaving differently for at least six months and it's affecting those around her, she could be at risk.
Padmaja Genesh with the Calgary Alzheimer's society said the checklist could reduce the wait time for seeing a specialist.
"That is something that is non-invasive, that is accessible, that is affordable. In that way this is really valuable," she said.
The checklist is being used at the cognitive neuroscience clinic at Foothills Hospital and Ismail said it's being distributed internationally.
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With files from Natasha Frakes