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Dementias

Dementia is a word that describes a group of symptoms that affect memory, thinking, and social abilities severely enough that they interfere with your daily life. Though dementia normally involves memory loss, memory loss alone doesn't mean you have dementia. Dementia is caused by damage to nerve cells and their connections in the brain. Depending on the area of the brain that's affected, dementia can affect people differently and cause different symptoms. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia in older adults, but not the only one.

There’s no cure for dementia, but a diagnosis doesn’t mean that your life is over. There are treatments available for the symptoms, and steps you can take to help slow the progression of the disease. Regular exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep, stress management, social engagement, and mental stimulation have been shown to slow symptom onset.
 

What is normal?

We all change as we age. Simple forgetfulness (misplacing your keys) and taking more time to remember names, dates, and events can be part of the normal process of aging. These changes have little impact on your ability to do what you want to do. But ongoing forgetfulness, problems with planning and judgement, and difficulties communicating that interfere with normal day-to-day life and activities are not considered normal aging.

 

What are common signs and symptoms?

Dementia symptoms vary (depending on the cause), but common signs and symptoms include:

 

Cognitive changes

  • Memory loss (usually noticed by spouse, friend, or coworkers)
  • Difficulty communicating or finding words
  • Difficulty with visual and spatial abilities—like getting lost while driving
  • Difficulty reasoning or problem-solving
  • Difficulty handling complex tasks
  • Difficulty with planning and organizing
  • Difficulty with coordination and motor functions
  • Confusion and disorientation

 

Psychological changes

  • Personality changes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Inappropriate behaviour
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations


 

Should I seek help?

See a doctor if you or a loved one has memory problems or other dementia symptoms. Some  medical conditions can cause dementia symptoms that can go away when properly diagnosed and treated. If dementia is diagnosed, accessing information, support, and treatment is important to live well and plan for the future.

Tools

Mental Health 101

Knowledge is power. This series of free online tutorials is a starting point for learning about mental health.​ You can come away with a greater understanding of the mental health concern you are interested in knowing more about.

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Adults / Seniors / Youth

17 Program(s)

Healthy Minds Cooperative

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Healthy Minds Cooperative is an innovative mental health cooperative that provides a variety of peer-based services to people with lived experience of mental health issues and...

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Adults / Seniors

Eskasoni Mental Health

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Eskasoni Mental Health Services (EMHS) provides a wide range of services to the Mi’kmaq people of Eskasoni, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The Tui'kn Residential School Survivor...

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Adults / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Caregivers Nova Scotia

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Caregivers Nova Scotia provides free programs, services, information, and advocacy for family and friend caregivers. We are dedicated to providing recognition and practical assistance to friends and family giving care.

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Adults / Seniors
Caregiver, Family

Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

The Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia is the leading not-for-profit health charity working to improve the quality of life for Nova Scotians affected by Alzheimer's disease or...

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Dementias
Adults / Seniors

211

211
This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

211 is a free, confidential information and referral service that can connect you to thousands of programs and services offered by local community groups, nonprofits and government departments across Nova Scotia, 24/7.

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Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth

Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services - Mental Health Programs and Services

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) is responsible for administering Non-Public Property (NPP) on behalf of the Chief of the Defence Staff and for delivering...

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Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

Veterans Affairs Canada Assitance Service

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Veterans Affairs provide targeted services and benefits to improve well-being including support and services related to your physical and mental health and wellness.The VAC...

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Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

Health Psychology

Health Psychology offers psychological interventions for those with chronic and acute health conditions. The main focus is on the patient's mental and emotional reaction to an illness or their recovery from an illness.

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Adults

Geriatric Psychiatry Acute Inpatient Unit

The Geriatric Psychiatry Acute Inpatient Unit is for individuals over the age of 65 with a new onset of mental illness or for individuals of any age with dementia and complicated medical and/or psychological symptoms.

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Seniors

Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Program

Seniors mental health services provide assessment, consultation and treatments to:

  • seniors aged 65 and older for a new onset of mental health challenges
  • individuals of...

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Seniors

Adult Neurodevelopmental Stabilization Unit - Dual Diagnosis Program (Intellectual Disability in combination with Mental Illness)

The Adult Neurodevelopmental Stabilization Unit (ANSU) is an acute care unit that provides services for persons with intellectual disability and acute mental illness that...

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Adults

Community Outreach Assessment Support and Treatment Team (COAST) - Dual Diagnosis Program (Intellectual Disability in combination with Mental Illness)

The community outreach assessment support and treatment team provides services for persons with both intellectual disability and also mental illness. These services include:

...

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Adults

Seniors Mental Health Services

Seniors mental health services provide assessment, consultation and treatments to:

- seniors aged 65 and older for a new onset of mental health challenges;
- individuals of...

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Seniors

Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line

The Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line provides crisis intervention for children, youth and adults experiencing a mental health crisis or mental distress.

...

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Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth

Inpatient Mental Health Services

Inpatient mental health services are available for those who cannot be safely assessed, diagnosed and stabilized in the community. 

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Adults / Seniors

First Nations Services

Mental Health clinicians work as part of the first nations health care team in several first nations communities. The Mental Health Clinician provides assessment, diagnosis...

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Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Adult Community Mental Health and Addictions Services

Community Mental Health and Addictions includes a team of mental health and addictions professionals who provide services on an outpatient basis. The team provides assessment...

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Adults / Seniors

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