The word dementia describes a set of symptoms that include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Vascular Dementia or a series of strokes. Dementia is a progressive disease and specific symptoms will depend on the parts of the brain that are damaged and the disease that is causing the dementia.
There is no certain way to prevent all types of dementia. However, a healthy lifestyle can help lower your risk of developing dementia when you are older.
Coping with Dementia
As well as cognitive symptoms (problems with thinking or memory) a person with dementia may also experience a change in mood possibly becoming frustrated or irritable, withdrawn, anxious, easily upset, unusually sad or behave out of character. Someone with dementia may also experience a change in their sleep pattern and appetite.
In the later stages of dementia people may also have physical symptoms such as muscle weakness or weight loss.
People with dementia and their families are sometimes reluctant to seek advice when concerned about memory or other problems but there are many benefits to getting medical advice early, such as:
Getting the right medical treatment
Finding the best type of support
Helping to make decisions about the future
There is advice and support available to help people with dementia to live well. It is important to stay active, eat well, get out and socialise, sleep well and mange any other long-term conditions.
People with dementia can feel especially vulnerable as their condition progresses and they increasingly rely on other people to do things for them. It is important that people who have dementia feel reassured and supported, while retaining some level of independence.
As dementia affects a person's mental abilities, they may find planning and organising difficult. Maintaining their independence may also become a problem. A person with dementia will therefore usually need help from friends or relatives, including help with decision making
Caring for someone with dementia can be frustrating and stressful at times, but there are many organisations that can help.
Dementia Friends is a national project. Anybody can become a Dementia Friend. It’s about understanding a bit more about dementia and the small things you can do to help people with the condition.
Dementia Friends learn a little bit about what it's like to live with dementia and are then able to help people with dementia fee morel included in their community. This could be by helping someone find the right bus or just being patient in a till queue if someone with dementia is taking longer to pay.