Five Things You Should Know About Dementia

Alzheimer's Society

Dementia is not a natural part of ageing

We all forget a name or a face sometimes. Especially as we get older. But dementia is something different.

Memory problems are one of a number of symptoms that people with dementia may experience. Others include difficulties with planning, thinking things through, struggling to keep up with a conversation, and sometimes changes in mood or behaviour.

Dementia is not a natural part of ageing and it doesn’t just affect older people. Over 40,000 people under 65 in the UK have dementia. This is called early-onset or young-onset dementia.

Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain

Diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease cause nerve cells to die, damaging the structure and chemistry of the brain.

Other types of dementia include:

Alzheimer’s disease tends to start slowly and progress gradually. Vascular dementia after a stroke often progresses in a ‘stepped’ way. This means that symptoms are stable for a while and then suddenly get worse.

It's not just about losing your memory

When most people hear the word dementia, they think of memory loss.

And it does often start by affecting the short-term memory. Someone with dementia might repeat themselves and have problems recalling things that happened recently. But dementia can also affect the way people think, speak, perceive things, feel and behave.

Other common symptoms include:

  • difficulties concentrating
  • problems planning and thinking things through
  • struggling with familiar daily tasks, like following a recipe or using a bank card
  • issues with language and communication, for example trouble remembering the right word or keeping up with a conversation
  • problems judging distances (even though eyesight is fine)
  • mood changes and difficulties controlling emotions. For example, someone might get unusually sad, frightened, angry, easily upset, or lose their self-confidence and become withdrawn.

Symptoms of dementia gradually get worse over time. How quickly this happens varies from person to person – and some people stay independent for years.

People can still live well with dementia

Although there is no cure for dementia, scientists and researchers are working hard to find one.

Until that day comes, support and treatments are available that can help with symptoms and managing daily life. These can allow people with dementia to lead active, purposeful lives and carry on doing the things that matter to them most.

Alzheimer's Society is here for anyone affected by dementia

We provide expert information and support to anyone affected by dementia. Call our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456 if you’d like to talk to someone for information, support or advice.

Sign up to Talking Point, our online community for anyone affected by dementia. Unite, share experiences and get support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Find services local to you for people affected by dementia.

Find out more about our specialist dementia training and consultancy services.

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