Get the facts on dementia

You might have heard quite a bit about dementia but still not be completely sure what it is, what causes dementia or what a diagnosis could mean for you or a loved one. Find out all the basic information you need to know

Dementia is…

- The general term used to describe a wide range of symptoms that occur when brain cells stops working properly. The main symptom of dementia is memory loss but there are many other symptoms too, including communication and language problems and changes in personality.

- A progressive condition which means it gets worse in time though it usually progresses quite slowly – over years – rather than months depending on which form of dementia you have been diagnosed with and what caused it.

Diagnosed via various tests which can be carried out by a doctor or dementia specialist working in a memory clinic or hospital. Although there is no cure for dementia – yet – there are many ways to help slow down the progress of the condition including drug treatments, natural and psychological therapies and creative activities which can provide lots of enjoyment and stimulation.

Dementia is NOT…

- A normal part of ageing – occasional lapses in memory might be part of the ageing process but dementia is more serious than this. It is a condition which damages the brain.

- The same as Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia but it isn’t the only one. In fact there are around 200 different types of dementia including vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia (sometimes called Pick’s disease), or a combination of more than one form called ‘mixed dementia’.

- A condition which only affects old people – younger people can get dementia too (although it is quite rare). When someone under 65 is diagnosed with a form of dementia it’s called early-onset or young-onset which can sometimes be hereditary.

- A mental illness – dementia is caused by damage to the brain, the damage can often be seen on brain scans, so it isn’t ‘in the mind.’ However, a diagnosis of dementia can also cause depression which, in turn, can lead to further memory problems.

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