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 severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimers disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of 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 aging. Dementia need not stop you living a full and fulfilling life. Many people with dementia continue to work, have hobbies and socialise.
Further information about types of dementia from the Alzheimer's Society.
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. The Alzheimer’s Society has a helpful factsheet about dementia, its symptoms and getting a diagnosis.
If you are worried about memory loss
If you are worried that you are becoming more forgetful, you should visit your GP to talk about your symptoms. It is important to know that there are many reasons for memory loss apart from dementia. It can be normal for your memory to decline with age. Stress, tiredness, illness and some medication can also affect your memory.
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.
If you think that someone you know may have dementia, NHS Choices and the Alzheimer’s Society have tips for starting a conversation with them about your concerns.
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 it is important to know that with many people who have the condition lead active, fulfilling lives. Treatment, advice and support is available
The Hampshire Dementia Advisor Service is available to anyone who has received a diagnosis of dementia. The service focuses on wellbeing rather than illness and offers support and advice.
The Alzheimer’s Society offers a Live Online advice service. They also have an online discussion forum, Talking Point, for anyone affected by dementia.
AskSara have an online self help guide on how to use technology to help you live well with dementia.