“Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the high road to pride, self-esteem and personal satisfaction.” – Brian Tracy

What is the most important step to take if you suspect you are experiencing cognitive decline?

There are substantial differences between normal aging of the brain and dementia. However, if you are exhibiting symptoms that are affecting your daily life, you might want to seek medical help. These issues include getting lost when driving, not being able to retain new information, having difficulty finding words when conversing, experiencing depression, or losing interest in socializing.

Why is an early diagnosis so important?

  • Your issues might be reversible. The symptoms you are concerned about could be related to medication, vitamin deficiency or even depression.
  • It might be treatable. Appropriate treatment can stop or slow the rate of further decline.
  • With treatment, the sooner the better. The current medications available for some forms of dementia are most effective when used early in the disease process.
  • It’s empowering. Make your wishes known. Participate in any legal decisions and treatment. Also understanding your diagnosis helps you remain active and to face issues head on.
  • You can focus on what’s important to you. This includes how to spend your time, completing life goals such as traveling, recording family history, making memories with your grandchildren.
  • You can enroll in an early memory loss program.

About two years ago, Memory Matters introduced a new program called Connections. It was created because our staff recognized a gap in the programs we were offering.

We were talking to folks who were not appropriate for a day program but could be too challenged for Brain Boosters. Their cognitive issues were sometimes minimal, but the common thread was most people calling were recently diagnosed with a form of dementia. Age was not a consideration.

What would we offer in this new program? Our program would include the importance of camaraderie, professional support, activities that were challenging yet set up for success, quarterly memory screenings, yoga and meditation, but, most importantly, our staff would help them understand that they are not defined by their diagnosis.

In short, we wanted to offer the kind of program that would help these folks stay engaged in life and thrive in a program that created a “failure-free zone.”

This program is now so popular that Memory Matters is going to offer Connections twice a week. Beginning Feb. 6, Connections classes will be held Mondays and Thursdays, allowing an individual to attend once or twice a week.

Memory Matters is excited to add more brain health programs to our schedule. We realize that knowledge is power, and we are offering creative ideas that encourage people to stop worrying and be proactive.

What are you waiting for? Call us right now and make an appointment with one of our dementia care specialists. You can also get a free memory screening. Call 843-842-6688 or visit www.memory-matters.org.

Karen Doughtie is assistant director of Memory Matters, serving Bluffton and Hilton Head. karen@memory-matters.org