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One of the talks at the Malaga hospital. Ñ. S.
About 30,000 people in Malaga province have some form of dementia

About 30,000 people in Malaga province have some form of dementia

A neurologist explains the key warning signs of the onset of dementia

Susana Zamora

Friday, 19 May 2023, 11:34

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A series of talks in Spanish is being given at Malaga's Hospital Clínico by a multidisciplinary team of professionals on the subject of dementia and Alzheimer's.

Taking part in the talks is Francisco Garzón, neurologist and member of the Dementia Unit of the Neurology Service, who highlights the first warning signs that usually appear between the ages of 60 and 70.

"The most common is memory loss; not of remote memory [the memory of events that occurred in the distant past], but of memory that refers to recent events," he explains, but points out that for it to be a cause for concern the memory loss would be "persistent and significant".

He goes on to say that language problems are also common such as difficulties in speaking fluently, which are detected by the patient themselves.

"Although their comprehension difficulties are often perceived earlier by family members than by the affected person themselves," Garzón points out.

A third sign is their ability to carry out tasks and coordinate them together in order to complete them successfully, like putting on the washing machine.

Everyday tasks

Less frequent and more difficult to detect, according to Garzón, would be an inflexible attitude, going out inappropriately at inopportune times or accumulating rubbish. "In general, we should be suspicious of any change [which] is progressive without there being a reason to justify it."

Evolution of the condition starts with a slight cognitive deterioration, with alterations in behaviour that have little impact on the patient's life, "although when the patient loses independence to carry out everyday tasks, we would then be talking about dementia". This may be mild to moderate dementia, or advanced dementia, which would complicate the patient's ability to carry out basic tasks such as dressing, eating or walking.

The specialist has always been concerned about the quality of life of caregivers (the importance of the caregiver looking after him/herself is also addressed in the talks) and so much so that it was the subject of his doctoral thesis.

He points out that current treatments are aimed at delaying the evolution of the disease, so that the best possible cognitive and functional state is prolonged over time.

Around 30,000 people suffer from dementia in Malaga province, more than half of whom have Alzheimer's. The number of people affected with the conditions is growing all the time and is connected with an ageing society.

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