Reduced cognition will severely affect the routines of everyday life: What to do, when to do it, and how to keep in contact with other people, becomes difficult.
Families sense that something is wrong, when the slow dissolution of everyday life and the difficulties of keeping to the usual structure of days, start. Often the person, who is afflicted, notices the changes himself first and wonders what is wrong with him.
Since the symptoms of dementia may easily be confounded with other diseases, it is very important to be medically examined.
Persons with problems that point towards dementia will often hesitate before joining others in social situations. Many will withdraw from social commitments and enter a vicious circle of isolation and inactivity.
American studies have shown that persons with a diagnosis of dementia often feel overlooked and feel they are not taken seriously. Such persons will make great efforts to bring back order and regularity into their days. Meeting people who understand the situation and take it seriously, and meeting others in the same situation is often great relief and help.
Course of dementia
Dementia normally develops over many years and the majority of these years are spent at home. In order to make the days function well for everybody in the families, it is vital to build appropriate daily habits and get the help that is needed to fit the concrete level of development of the illness. Not until much later it becomes relevant to talk about moving into a nursing home or into some kind of special housing.
In the entire course of dementia it is important to offer individually tailored support and help to the families, as well from the public care system as from private networks and voluntary organizations.
Learning about dementia
A big Danish RCT-study (DAISY) has demonstrated that family members and persons with dementia benefit from getting information as well on the dementia itself as on the local possibilities of help very soon after they have been given the diagnosis.