Get more information on dementia

When you’re looking for information about dementia it can be difficult because there is so much out there. Here are some essential facts…

Whether you’re worried about your memory, have been recently diagnosed with dementia, or just keep hearing it mentioned in the news and want to learn more, find out the most important elements of the dementia journey

Dementia is not the same as Alzheimer’s although it’s easy to get the two confused. In fact, there are around 200 types of dementia but the main ones are:

- Alzheimer’s
- Vascular dementia
- Dementia with lewy Bodies
- Frontotemporal dementia (often called Pick's disease)
- Mixed dementia

 Dementia in a nutshell

1. Dementia doesn’t only affect older people. Young or early on-set dementia can happen at any age, though it is rare. Dementia can also be linked to other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s or motor neuron disease.

2. Dementia can sometimes be linked to strokes or alcohol abuse. Scientists have discovered several ‘dementia genes’ which may increase your risk of getting dementia. But whatever your genetic makeup, a healthy lifestyle could still lower your risk of developing the condition.

3. Dementia is usually diagnosed through a serious of tests which can be carried out by anyone from a GP, a memory specialist in a memory clinic or a hospital consultant. Diagnosis usually includes a short test called a Mini Mental State Assessment it can also include brain scans although this isn’t always necessary.

4. Dementia is a progressive illness which means it usually does get worse in time. However, how quickly it progresses and how long people will live depends on many factors including your age, general health, and the particular form of dementia you have.

5. Drug treatments for dementia are still quite limited but research is growing rapidly and clinical trials are happening all the time. As understanding of dementia and the challenging behaviour it can cause rises, the use of anti-psychotic drugs to ease aggression and agitation is in steady decline. Instead, many people are seeing the value of natural therapies and reminiscence therapy as ways to help people with dementia remain calm and happy.

6. General thinking about dementia now focuses less on the illness itself and more on the person who is living with it, ensuring that their wishes, needs and views are always a priority. This is called Person Centred Care and it’s the best way to ensure that people with dementia retain dignity, respect and enjoyment in life.