Dementia is not something that just happens to everyone as they get older. It is caused by different illnesses.
What is dementia?
Our brains control everything we think, feel, remember and do.
There are diseases that stop a person’s brain from working properly. When a person has one of these diseases, they may have problems thinking, remembering and speaking. They might say or do things that seem strange to others and find it harder to do everyday things. They may not seem like the person they used to be.
When these problems get worse over time, doctors may use the word dementia to describe them.
Why does it happen?
Dementia is not something that just happens to everyone as they get older. It is caused by different diseases.
These diseases affect different parts of the brain, so they affect people in different ways.
Most people with dementia have Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia but there are other types too
In most cases we don’t know why a person may get one of these diseases while someone else may not. But we do know there are things we can do to make us less likely to develop dementia. Doctors and scientists are working hard to find out more about dementia – including its causes.
Some people may be more likely to develop dementia than others, like those who have had a stroke, or who have:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
How does dementia affect someone?
Most of us forget things from time to time, like where we left our keys. This does not mean we have dementia. When someone has dementia, symptoms slowly get worse so that they get in the way of daily life.
When people start to get dementia, you might see some of these things happen:
As dementia gets worse, people may have trouble speaking clearly or telling other people what they need or how they feel. They may find it hard to eat and drink, wash and dress themselves, and go to the toilet without help.
Who is affected by dementia?
Dementia is very common.
Did you know that almost 1 million people in the UK have dementia?
In the UK there are more women with dementia than men.
People over 65 are much more likely to get dementia, but it can affect younger people too.
Is there a cure?
At the moment there are no medicines that can cure dementia. Once a person has dementia, they will have it for the rest of their life. They will also continue to get worse over time.
There are some medicines that can help for a while, by making day-to-day life a little easier. There may also be group activities people can take part in to help them live better with their symptoms. Your doctor can tell you more about these.
Can I stop myself getting dementia?
There is no sure way to stop anyone from getting dementia, but there are things we can do that may make it less likely that we will.
Admiral Nurses offer people with dementia and their families practical advice, support and tips. 0800 888 6678
Alzheimer’s Society provides information, help and local support groups. A translation service is available. 0333 150 3456
Alzheimer Scotland offers support services, information and advice to people in Scotland. 0808 808 3000