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What is Dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a set of symptoms that may include memory loss, diminished communication and difficulties with thinking and problem-solving.

The vast majority of people who develop a dementia are older, but recent findings have proven that the above symptoms are being found in people far younger – even children.

With over 200 types of dementia currently diagnosed, Alzheimer’s Disease accounts for over 60% of all cases. Other types of dementia include: Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease; Fronto Temporal Dementia (Pick’s Dementia); Lewy Body Dementia; Parkinson’s Disease; and Vascular Dementia.

What Does Dementia Do?

Although no one person’s journey with dementia is the same, the condition, irrespective of what type of dementia has been diagnosed, is a degeneration of the brain which leads to an overall impairment of both mental and physical capacity. Dementia is a progressive illness, which means the symptoms will worsen over time – but how quickly this happens is unique to the individual. A person living with a dementia will often have problems with their:

  • Memory – difficulty recalling information from their short-term memory.
  • Concentration – difficulties with day-to-day tasks and general problem-solving.
  • Language – difficulty with conversation or finding the right word.
  • Orientation – becoming confused about where they are.

What Causes Dementia?

The causes of dementia are unknown. Depending on the type of dementia that has been diagnosed, the degeneration of the brain will happen for different reasons – for example, a person living with Alzheimer’s Disease will find that their capacity will diminish because of a loss of chemical connections between the brain cells; where as an individual living with Lewy Body Dementia will have tiny abnormal structures (Lewy bodies) forming inside the brain cells – but an overall cause hasn’t been confirmed.

Who Gets Dementia?

Dementia mainly affects people aged 65 and over, however, it is estimated that 2%-5% people under this age have been diagnosed with dementia-related symptoms. 

Diagnosing Dementia

Getting an individual’s dementia diagnosed has many benefits. Aside from better understanding their symptoms and giving them access to advice and support, a diagnosis allows a loved one to prepare for the future – and decide what type of care and environment best suits them.

Dementia is typically diagnosed by a medical profession such: a GP; a psychiatrist; a geriatrician; or a neurologist. 

Can Dementia Be Prevented?

Ongoing research has strongly suggested that there is no evidence that dementia can be prevented. However, there are strong links between leading a healthy lifestyle and a reduced risk of developing a dementia.