What is Dementia?
Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s a term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills. It is called dementia if the decline is severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.
Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common dementia type. There are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia. Some of these are reversible, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies.
Dementia affects around 850,000 people in the UK. It usually occurs in people aged over 65, but it’s not a natural part of ageing. Dementia need not stop you living a full and fulfilling life. Many people with dementia continue to work, have hobbies and socialise.
Dementia is often associated with memory loss but different types of dementia can have a variety of symptoms. These are some of the possible symptoms of dementia:
• Memory loss
• Difficulty with tasks that need organisation and planning
• Becoming confused about place or time, particularly in unfamiliar environments
• Difficulty finding the right words or following conversations
• Changes in personality and mood
• Difficulty judging distance or seeing objects differently to how they are
• Hallucinations and delusions
• Muscle wasting, changes to balance and posture or difficulty in physical movement
You can find more information about the symptoms of each type of dementia on the NHS Choices website.
The Alzheimer’s Research UK website has a helpful visual diagram that allows you to tour the brain. You can find out how dementia can affect different areas of the brain.
If you are worried about memory loss
It is important to know that there are many reasons for memory loss apart from dementia. Many of us become more forgetful as we get older and need a bit longer to remember things. For most people, these changes will be the result of normal ageing and won’t be down to dementia. Stress, tiredness, illness and some medication can also affect your memory.
If you are concerned about memory loss, you should visit your GP. Dementia is a progressive disease; the symptoms get worse over time. It is important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. You may be able to get treatment to slow down the progress of the disease. This will also allow you more time to plan for the future and to access support to help you live well with the condition.
Your GP may want to refer you on for further tests. This referral could be to a community mental health team made up of a number of different specialists. They may carry out a scan or more in-depth memory tests. If you are diagnosed with dementia, they will be able to plan your care with you. This could include medication, memory courses and signposting to other services. Your GP will also be informed about your assessment and will then carry out a yearly review with you.
There may be equipment which may help you with memory loss and staying independent. See the staying independent page of North Lincolnshire Councils website for information on aids and adaptations and the independent living service. The Alzheimer’s Society also have an online shop.
If you have been diagnosed with Dementia
If you, or a friend or relative, have recently been diagnosed with dementia, you may be feeling scared, anxious or sad. There is currently no “cure” for dementia but there are several drugs that could help
It is important to know that many people who have the condition lead active, fulfilling lives.
Advice, support and resources:
The Dementia Direct Service is available to residents living in North Lincolnshire and their family and Carers, whether or not they have had a diagnosis. The service focuses on wellbeing rather than illness and offers support and advice.
- The Living With Dementia Toolkit is a set of resources. It is based on research and the expert experiences of people with dementia and their carers.
- The Alzheimer’s Society offers a telephone support line – 0333 150 3456. They also have an online discussion forum, Talking Point, for anyone affected by dementia.
- “This is me” is a simple leaflet which you can download. It is for anyone receiving professional care who is living with dementia or experiencing other communication difficulties. It can be used to record details about a person who can’t easily share information about themselves.
- ‘My Home Helper‘ has been developed to help people who care for someone living with memory issues. It is simple to use tablet computer doesn’t need any interaction from the person living with dementia or memory issues.
- My House of Memories app is an easy to use app designed for, and with, people living with dementia and their families and carers. It allow you to explore objects from the past and share memories together.
Researchers at Loughborough University have produced a series of short ‘Dementia Persona’ videos to help people living with dementia and families to identify the level of care required at different stages of dementia:
- Alison, 70, early stages of dementia
- Barry, 74, more developed
- Christine, 82, progressive
- David, 85, severe
- Chris, 78, and Sally, 75 (carer)
The Ideal Project have made a film about a theatre production, The World Turned Upside Down, that takes a realistic look at dementia: what it can be like to live with dementia or care for a person with dementia.
Here is a collection of videos in Urdu and Arabic, put together by Age UK in Sheffield. They help raise awareness and understanding of Dementia, the diagnosis and helping those living with Dementia. If you need help or support, get in touch with Dementia Direct, the Dementia Advisory Service for North Lincolnshire. Get in touch via the contact form or call 01652 650585
- What are the signs of Dementia – Urdu
- Why should i get diagnosed with Dementia – Urdu
- Am I a Dementia Carer – Urdu
- How can I help someone in my family with Dementia? – Urdu
Can Dementia be prevented?
There’s no certain way to prevent all types of dementia, as researchers are still investigating how the condition develops.
However, there’s good evidence that a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk of developing dementia when you’re older.
A healthy lifestyle can also help prevent cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and heart attacks, which are themselves risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia (the 2 most common types of dementia).
Volunteering to support people living with Dementia
Anyone who is keen to make a positive difference to the lives of people living with dementia can get involved with the work of Dementia Direct and the Carers’ Support Service. Please complete our volunteer application form, and make it clear you would like to support people living with Dementia. We very much look forward to hearing from you.
We are keen to hear form people who are interested in becoming Befrienders, and who would like to support some of our peer support groups.
The Carers’ Support Centre
Registered Charity Number: 1070028
Company Limited by Guarantee.
Registration number: 3540988
Carers’ Support Centre – Registered Office
Jessie Wilcox House
11 Redcombe Lane
Telephone Main Office: 01652 650 585
Carers’ Support Service
The Old Waterworks Offices
1 Town Hall Square
North East Lincolnshire
Telephone: 01472 242 277