Dementia affects everyone differently and it can cause a wide range of symptoms which can include problems with memory, perception, thinking, concentration and language. People with dementia can become confused, they may behave differently and experience changes in moods and emotions.
Dementia is a progressive illness, which means that the symptoms will get worse over a period of time. However, many people with dementia lead active and fulfilling lives for many years.
The Alzheimer’s Society website offers more information (downloads and audio versions) on the many different types of dementia of which the most common are Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Less common are Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia and the more rarer forms of dementia. Around 95% of people have one of the four main types of dementia. Further fact sheets on specific dementias can be located on the Alzheimer Society’s site.
There are around 850,000 people in the UK who have dementia.
Various factors increase the risk of developing dementia and these include: aging, genes, health and lifestyle choices. The majority of people with dementia are over 65 but the disease does affect younger people. More than 64,000 younger people (under the age of 65) in the UK, have what is known as either early-onset or young-onset dementia.
This video was produced by the charity Young Dementia UK (now Dementia UK) and explains clearly what it is like to be diagnosed with dementia under 65.
The chance of developing dementia increases with age and one in 14 people over the age of 65, and one in six people over 80, has dementia. It is more common among women than men.
If you have been diagnosed with a condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI) this causes symptoms similar to dementia which are not as serious. People with MCI have a higher risk of developing dementia but not all of them will.
People experience dementia in many different ways and different types of dementia affect people differently.
Here are some of the most common symptoms as stated in the Alzheimer’s Society’s book – The Dementia Guide: Living Well after Diagnosis.
Dementia is caused by physical changes in the brain and, as it progresses, the structure and chemistry of the brain changes which leads to damage and a gradual decay of brain cells.
Damage to different parts of the brain will have different effects. Some areas may affect short-term memory while another area might affect a person’s ability to organise things.