Dementia affects about 820,000 people in England and about 15,000 of these people age aged 65 or less; it is not a single illness but a group of symptoms caused by damage to the brain.
The most common cause is called Alzheimer’s Disease, another is Vascular Dementia which can develop following a stroke, or if there is blood vessel damage that interrupts the supply of blood to your brain.
Dementia is not a normal consequence of growing old.
As we get older, many of us notice our brain is not as agile and our memory not as sharp as it used to be; it is quite a common observation but it can make us wonder if these memory problems could be an early sign of dementia.
The symptoms of dementia include:
- Memory loss, such as remembering past events much more easily than recent ones.
- Problems thinking or reasoning, or finding it hard to follow conversations or TV programmes.
- Feeling anxious, depressed or angry about memory loss, or feeling confused, even when in a familiar environment.
Dementia is progressive, which means that the symptoms will get worse over time. It can happen to anyone and there is currently no cure, but treatments can slow the progression of the disease.
If it is diagnosed early enough there are lots of things that can be done to help you overcome problems and improve the quality of your life.
Why is it important to make the diagnosis early?
A diagnosis can help a person get information, advice and support, and enable them and their family to plan for the future. It can also rule out other conditions that might be treatable, such as depression, other causes of confusion.
Medication to slow the progress of the disease
Depending on the stage of the condition, medication can be helpful. In many circumstances medication can help to slow the progression of the disease. In addition many people with dementia also suffer from agitation and depression and it is important to address these symptoms, which sometimes is best treated with medication.