What is dementia?
Dementia is a common condition. Your risk of developing dementia increases as you get older, and the condition usually occurs in people over the age of 65. Dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities. This includes problems with:
- memory loss
- thinking speed
- mental agility
People with dementia can become apathetic or uninterested in their usual activities, and have problems controlling their emotions. They may also find social situations challenging, lose interest in socialising, and aspects of their personality may change. A person with dementia may lose empathy (understanding and compassion), they may see or hear things that other people do not (hallucinations), or they may make false claims or statements. Most types of dementia can’t be cured, but if it is detected early there are ways you can slow it down and maintain mental function.
As dementia affects a person’s mental abilities, they may find planning and organising difficult. Maintaining their independence may also become a problem. A person with dementia will therefore usually need help from friends or relatives, including help with decision making. Your GP will discuss the possible causes of memory loss with you, including dementia. Other symptoms can include:
- increasing difficulties with tasks and activities that require concentration and planning
- changes in personality and mood
- periods of mental confusion
- difficulty finding the right words