Memory problems can be an early sign of dementia and, while there is no cure, early diagnosis is essential for managing and slowing down the gradual progression of the disease.
The lockdown period had a serious effect on the mental health of many people and the team at Summerfield Healthcare, which has private clinics in Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, say their memory assessment centres have seen a significant increase in calls since restrictions were eased.
Care Quality Commission manager Paul Hatton said: “Many people have a regular routine and it is when that routine breaks that many issues can surface.
"With Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown routines changed completely, this has unearthed tell-tale signs that are causing many people, and their family members, to be concerned.
“Unfortunately, many NHS services are not currently holding face to face consultations, but a delay in diagnosis in dementia conditions can have an impact on its progression.”
A recent report from the Alzheimer’s Society revealed its support services were used more than half a million times during lockdown, with the restrictions resulting in the mental deterioration of people affected by dementia.
Dr Chandrashekar Basavaraj, consultant old age psychiatrist at Summerfield memory assessment centre, said: “Lockdown was a difficult time for everyone but had a profound effect on people’s mental health.
“We know from research and reports that those already diagnosed with dementia were adversely affected and we believe many others spotted symptoms during lockdown that gave cause for concern.
“It resulted in bookings for our memory clinic increasing rapidly over the past few weeks as people seek early assessments to reassure themselves and access early treatments if necessary.
“Memory loss doesn’t necessarily mean the onset of dementia, there can be several reasons why it happens but an assessment can rule out other causes which can include things like vitamin deficiency, depression, anxiety and infections, but people are obviously acting swiftly if they think there may be a problem.
“Waiting times for an assessment can take many weeks or months and we feel it’s important to have one done quickly if you think there could be problems developing with the memory.
“Dementia develops gradually and the symptoms get worse as the disease progresses.
"It develops at different rates in different people but early diagnosis helps to put treatments in place to slow down it’s progress.”
For more information or to book an assessment, call 0333 9000 010, visit www.summerfieldhealthcare.co.uk/memory-clinic or email email@example.com