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Memory loss or dementia is not a normal part of aging.

Many people have memory loss issues. This does not mean they have Alzheimer’s or another dementia. There are many different causes of memory loss, some of which may be treatable. The first step in getting help for a memory problem or suspected dementia is to have a thorough medical examination. During an evaluation, treatable conditions that affect memory can be found and treatment can begin immediately. If there is a suspected dementia, an early diagnosis allows you to learn more about living well with dementia and plan for the future.

If we could have had a correct diagnosis even two years earlier, it would have given us more time to plan, to do the things that can result in a good quality of life and to accomplish things we always wanted to do that got put off for this reason or that.

- Jay Smith, husband of Patty, diagnosed 2 years after onset of symptoms

Younger-onset (also known as early-onset) Alzheimer's affects people younger than age 65. Up to 5 percent of the more than 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s have younger-onset.

Alzheimer's Disease worsens over time. Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Learn more: 10 Warning Signs and Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's has no current cure but treatments can help, and research continues. Current Alzheimer's treatments cannot stop the disease from getting worse. But they can slow dementia’s symptoms for a while and improve quality of life for both those with Alzheimer's and their caregivers. Researchers around the world are now seeking better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset and prevent it and/or reduce risks of cognitive decline.

Do what you can to keep your brain healthy. There are steps you can take to promote healthy aging and brain health. Learn more about promoting good brain health at the National Institute on Aging to read about 10 Ways to Love Your Brain and connect with Washington State Department of Health.

Oral Health and Dental Considerations

Good oral health is important for overall health and well-being. It is important to improve oral health and reduce the risk of poor oral and dental health for persons with dementia. Maintaining oral health brings benefits in terms of self-esteem, dignity, social integration and nutrition. Poor oral health can lead to pain and tooth loss and can negatively affect self-esteem and the ability to eat, laugh, and smile. In addition, recent studies have identified a potential link between oral health and dementia risk. Find out more.

Washington’s Community Living Connections staff are available to help you explore your options to meet your current needs or create a plan for the future.

Concerned about Memory Loss for Yourself or Someone Else?

To review a questionnaire that you might take to your next health care provider visit, click on the “Download Now” link below

Let’s Talk Dementia videos

Brief videos of Washingtonians with dementia and their care partners, sharing how they knew something was amiss and how an early diagnosis has helped them.

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