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As people get older it is normal to slow down and take longer to process information and make decisions. In the normal course of events, ageing affects sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch and movement, this does not mean that a person is living with dementia.

The term dementia is used to cover many different progressive conditions that affect the brain.  These conditions cause a decline or reduction in abilities which may include, memory, thinking, reasoning and communicating, this can impair a person’s ability to carry out normal daily activities.

There are two more common types of dementia which are Alzheimer’s Disease and Vascular Dementia.  Alzheimer’s Disease is a physical disease named after Alois Alzheimer the doctor who first described it. In individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease bad proteins build up in the brain causing damage to the brain cell and their connections. It is the most common form of Dementia in people over the age of 65. Symptoms are usually mild at first but worsen gradually over time.

Vascular Dementia is the second most common type of dementia and is caused by reduced blood supply to the brain cells, often due to strokes or TIAs which are a series of small strokes. Brain cells need a constant supply of blood bringing oxygen and nutrients and when blood vessels leak or they are damaged or blocked, the blood cannot reach the brain cells and they eventually die.  This causes problems with thinking, reasoning and memory.

Symptoms of dementia may include the following;

  • Memory Loss – often this is one of the first symptoms that people around the person suffering from dementia become aware of.  Family and friends often report their loved ones forgetting recent events, getting lost whilst out, repeating themselves, being confused and appearing not to pay attention or be able to follow conversations. 
  • Communication problems - Many People experience problems with communication skills and get confused using incorrect words for common things.  People can also experience difficulty with reading and understanding
  • Changes in behaviour and personality may include mood swings, depression or anxiety and lose their self-confidence
  • Dementia can affect everyone and it is necessary to get it correctly diagnosed, however, some people will be living with undiagnosed dementia.  The longer a person lives the more likely it is that they will suffer from some form of Dementia.  However, Dementia can also affect younger people and it is in this group of people that dementia can easily be overlooked

There is currently no cure for dementia.  For people living with dementia, the experience can be affected by the attitudes and views of others.  It is important to ensure that the focus should not be on the constant loss of abilities as this can encourage a negative experience of living with the condition.  Dementia will affect every individual differently this will depend on the type of dementia they have and also on the support they receive.

There are other conditions that can affect memory, concentration or behaviour,  these include but aren’t limited to Thyroid issues, infections and circulatory conditions,  these can all be treated effectively if they are addressed quickly,  when an individual is showing symptoms that are associated with Dementia it is important to visit a GP as quickly as possible.