Linda Lim has been fascinated by how the brain works ever since her first encounter with neurosurgery during her first posting as a nurse at National University Hospital in 1997. She joined National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) in 2005 and was subsequently introduced to dementia as a possible area of specialisation just before she embarked on her Master of Nursing in 2010.
Prior to this, she, like most, had the misconception that dementia is “all about the elderly population being forgetful and getting lost”.
“I learned that there is so much more to dementia that I didn’t know, especially at NNI where my focus is on young-onset dementia, which afflicts patients between the ages of 30 and 65,” she said.
Unlike elderly patients with cognitive impairment who display symptoms of dementia, the investigation and treatment for young-onset dementia is less straightforward. This is because younger patients may initially exhibit bizarre behaviour or have difficulty reading, and they tend to seek out a psychologist or an eye professional, rather than a neurologist.
It could take some time before a patient with young-onset dementia develops memory impairment, and by the time they are referred to a neurologist, the condition may have already deteriorated greatly.
As the condition of each patient varies, Linda can spend up to two hours addressing the needs, challenges and concerns of both the patient and the caregiver.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Linda was involved in organising large-scale events, such as public memory screening and forums, to raise awareness of dementia and young-onset dementia. The comprehensive public memory screening was a free hour-long one-to-one session, and the results were assessed by a team of doctors, nurses and psychologists.
Linda hopes that these screenings, which were very well received, can make a comeback soon, as they are an effective platform for getting the public to come forward to receive a cognitive assessment.
Linda Lim, Senior Nurse Clinician (APN) at National Neuroscience Institute, shares some symptoms of young-onset dementia:
• Vision issues - Difficulty reading and reaching for objects
• Speech issues - Difficulty with word-finding and pronouncing words
• Behaviour changes - Inappropriate social conduct, decline in personal hygiene, preference for sweets and carbohydrates
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