Sadly, it is not yet possible to cure the illnesses that cause dementia, or reverse the problems they cause in the brain. Once a person has dementia, they will have it for the rest of their life.
Each type of dementia is linked to a different pattern of changes in the brain, but even people with the same type of dementia may experience very different symptoms and problems. This is partly because the same kind of dementia might affect different parts of the brain in different people.
But, it is also partly because every brain is unique, shaped by the things that a person has learned and experienced in their lifetime. It’s very hard for doctors to say for certain how dementia will change a person’s brain, or to predict how long these changes will take.
We do know that most of the illnesses that cause dementia are progressive, which means that the symptoms change and get worse over time. Reading lists of typical symptoms can help you to understand the type of dementia that your relative has, but it can also be very worrying.
Remember that everyone experiences dementia in a different way. Some people develop new symptoms quickly. Others may have symptoms that develop slowly over many months or years.
People who have been diagnosed with dementia can still aim to live well, and can make the most of the time they have together with their family and friends. A healthy lifestyle that keeps the body and mind active can help to keep people with dementia well for longer.
This information was updated in November 2019 and is due for review in November 2021. Please contact us if you would like a version with references.