People with Undiagnosed Dementia May Be Unsafe

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kitchen-201x300.jpgAs many caregivers know, there are some activities that may be unwise for people with dementia to engage in. Depending upon how advanced the dementia is, for example, it may not be a good idea for them to drive or to handle hot items. When a person is diagnosed with dementia, it is easier for caregivers to know when to limit certain activities. But a new study indicates that people with undiagnosed dementia could also benefit from having some limits on activities.

The Study

Entitled “Potentially Unsafe Activities and Living Conditions of Older Adults with Dementia​,” the study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The goal of the study is defined as “to examine the prevalence of dementia in the absence of a reported dementia diagnosis and whether potentially unsafe activities and living conditions vary as a function of dementia diagnosis in a nationally representative sample of older adults.”

In this study, 1,038 older adults were looked at. Of these, 457 had a diagnosis of dementia. The other 581 were considered as likely to have dementia that had not yet been diagnosed.

Not surprisingly, those people who had “probable” dementia that had not been diagnosed were found to engage in activities that carried a considerable potential risk for safety. For example:

  • 23% of the “probable” dementia sufferers drove themselves.
  • 31% in this group also made hot meals on the stove, oven, or microwave.
  • 22% were in charge of handling their own finances largely without assistance.
  • 37% were in charge of their medications (in terms of dispensing it to themselves, filling prescriptions, etc.)
  • 21% tended to go to doctor appointments by themselves rather than with another person.
  • In addition, 21% of those with undiagnosed dementia were living alone, and almost 30% had endured multiple falls over the past year.

What to Do?

One of the primary reasons for obtaining an early diagnosis of dementia is so that caregivers can better be on the lookout for potentially unsafe activities in which a loved one engages. If a caregiver suspects that a loved one is displaying signs of possible dementia, these signs should be brought to the attention of a doctor to determine what steps might need to be taken.

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