According to the Dementia Statistics Hub, there are currently 850,000 people in the UK diagnosed with dementia. 34.5 million people in the UK know someone who is affected by the condition -around half of the UK’s population. This number is expected to grow over the next few decades, meaning that it is as important as ever that we all know more about dementia.
According to the NHS, dementia is a syndrome related to an ‘ongoing decline of brain functioning’. It can leave people with a range of problems, predominately of memory loss; language decline; mood swings; diminished movement; slower thinking speeds and wandering. Dementia is a progressive condition, which means that it can be difficult to spot at the start, but sadly their symptoms will only get worse over time. Currently, there is no cure. However, there is lots of research taking place to change this.
Although we all face memory problems; dementia is something different and more serious. Furthermore, whilst this is a common symptom of dementia, it is not the only one and it also does not only affect older people. Early-onset dementia effects around 40,000 people in the UK under the age of 40. If you are worried about someone you love showing signs of dementia, regardless of age, go and speak to a doctor.
Although Alzheimer’s disease is the most common and widely known form of dementia, there are other varieties such as Vascular, Lewdy bodies and Frontotemporal dementia. Whilst they all have some similar symptoms; they also vary hugely. For instance, Frontotemporal dementia doesn’t affect memory as much as Alzheimer’s and instead can cause more behavioural related changes.
Your doctor will be able to talk you through your different options and often there is medication you can be prescribed depending on your type of dementia. Some medication will focus more on changes in the brain to try and slow the disease, whilst others will target behavioural and personality changes. Although these medications can’t cure dementia, it can ease the symptoms. Other methods used involve cognitive stimulation (such as puzzles or quizzes), staying active, and life story work (where you talk to people about your life and memories). The tech world is also constantly changing and giving you extra resources to make life with dementia that little bit easier (for example there are GPS tracking devices to help with wandering). The above treatments, activities and gadgets mean that many people with dementia can continue to lead active and fulfilling lives.
It is important that you communicate with doctors, family or support workers about how you are feeling (whether you have dementia, or are supporting someone who has). The Alzheimer’s Society can provide expert information as well as support for anyone who is affected by dementia. They have a Dementia Connect support line which is reachable on 0333 150 3456. Here you can talk to someone for a multitude of reasons including information, support and advice. They also have an online community where you can have 24/7 access to an understanding and supportive community, called Talking Point, available to anyone affected by dementia. You are not alone.
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