A recent study has revealed concerning statistics regarding dementia patients and their likelihood to self-harm. Women made up 60% of those admitted to hospital for dementia-related issues, but it was found that men were more likely to self-harm after diagnosis. The study also concluded that those who self-harmed tended to be younger at the time of their initial diagnosis and were more likely to be single than those who did not self-harm.
Associate Professor Simone Reppermund, a co-author of the study, suggests that it is crucial for families and doctors to encourage mental health support soon after diagnosis, while the patient still has the cognitive ability to make informed decisions about their treatment. It is important for doctors to play a key role in reducing stigma, helping to get ahead of the condition, and providing necessary support.
Maree McCabe, chief executive of Dementia Australia which partially funded the study, has urged families to speak to their doctors if they suspect depression may be affecting a loved one with dementia. She explains that it can be difficult to determine if someone living with dementia is depressed as there are similarities in symptoms of both conditions.
One person who contributed to the study was Grady, one of 10 advocates with dementia who provided feedback on research questions and the final paper. His advocacy work and communication with others diagnosed with early onset dementia helped him find hope and a “life after diagnosis”. He believes that while he can no longer be a measurement scientist, his science background still has value in other ways.
The statistics revealed by the study highlight the importance of early intervention for dementia patients and the need for support for both the patient and their families. With proper treatment and care, those living with dementia can still lead fulfilling lives. It is important to recognize that depression and self-harm are common issues among dementia patients, and it is crucial for doctors and families to provide the necessary support for these individuals.