What is dementia?
Dementia is an ongoing disease that affects 850,000 people within the UK and according to Alzheimer’s Society over 1 million people will have the disease by 2025. Dementia is not a specific disease, far rather it is a term that describes a wide range of symptoms. The term dementia refers to different brain complications that cause the loss of brain functions. It is a condition, usually of a habitual or continuous form, which causes a decline in cognitive brain function (i.e. the capacity to convert thought).
In the later stages of dementia, the severity of the symptoms worsens; memory loss and simple tasks like communicating prove to be an everyday challenge. Consequently, people with dementia start to become oblivious to their bodies wants and needs, which means that an independent life becomes impossible.
What are the symptoms of dementia?
- memory loss
- problems with speech
- losing the ability to carry out daily tasks
- behavioural and personality change
- lack of basic understanding
Is there a cure? / How do you treat dementia?
There currently is no cure for dementia, nor is there a medical treatment that slows or stops it from advancing. Dementia gradually worsens over time which means that in the early stages of dementia, patients can often still live independently. However, as time passes and the symptoms become more advanced, people living with dementia need constant care, as they cannot adequately look after themselves anymore. Recent studies have shown that daily brain stimulating exercises like cross word puzzles and practicing yoga can slow down the onset of dementia.Read more about these studies
There are several organisations across the UK that provide solutions for dementia patients to make a life with dementia more easily manageable, even in the later stages of the disease. My Life Films gives people living with dementia the opportunity to create a free biographical life film about themselves to help remember and celebrate their life. It also allows the carer to better understand the specific needs of the person living with dementia, which means that they are provided with a higher quality of care.
How do I get diagnosed?
All types of dementia are diagnosed through a complete medical assessment. If you or a loved one think you are starting to develop the symptoms of dementia, you must seek an evaluation from a physician.
The evaluation includes:
- A thorough medical history
- Mental status and mood testing
- A physical and neurological exam
- Other tests, (i.e. blood tests and brain imaging) to rule out other causes of dementia-like symptoms.
It does not necessarily mean that you have dementia if you are experiencing problems with your memory. Memory and thinking problems can be the caused through many different treatable health issues, which will improve if the health issue is addressed adequately.
Who is usually effected by dementia?
Statistically speaking symptoms usually begin to develop at and around the age of 65 and gradually get worse over time. However, the early stages of dementia can begin to develop before this point and those who do, are categorised to having young onset dementia.
Although dementia is strongly perceived around growing old and the risk of developing dementia does increase with age, this is not always the case. According to Alzheimer’s Society there are over 40,000 people under 65 living with dementia in the UK. Young onset dementia is rare and therefore difficult to recognise, and not often diagnosed until later on down the line.
Are there different types of dementia?
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Vascular dementia
- Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)
- Mixed dementia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Frontotemporal dementia
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus
- Huntington’s Disease
- Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome