What is Dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term covering over two hundred progressive neurological conditions which damage brain cells and the connections between them. This impairs your brain’s ability to store and process information, causing a range of symptoms which vary from person to person but can include:

          • Forgetfulness
          • Becoming lost
          • Not recognising people
          • Misplacing items
          • Losing track of time
          • Loss of concentration
          • Indecisiveness
          • Mood swings
          • Difficulty following conversations
          • Struggling with reading and writing

Although the risk of developing dementia increases with age there are several things you can do to reduce the chance of developing it:

          • Taking regular exercise
          • Consuming less alcohol
          • Quitting smoking
          • Eating healthily
          • Keeping your mind active

Diagnosis is usually done through your GP, who can assess whether you are suffering from another underlying condition and refer you onto a specialist if necessary. Formal diagnosis depends on which type of dementia is suspected but can include an assessment of memory and cognitive skills, blood tests and an MRI or CT scan.

Common dementia types

Alzheimer’s disease
Caused by clumps of malfunctioning proteins and dead cells within the brain. The symptoms depend on which area of the brain is affected, but memory loss is common in the early stages.

Vascular dementia
Caused by a stroke restricting blood flow to the brain. The symptoms are heavily dependent on which areas of the brain are affected by the stroke.

Frontotemporal dementia
Caused by the builup of abnormal proteins in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. The symptoms can include changes in personality, loss of inhibition and difficulty communicating.

Lewy body dementia
Caused by abnormal protein clumps called Lewy bodies inside brain cells. The symptoms commonly include visual hallucinations, disturbed sleep and mobility problems.

Mixed dementia
Multiple dementia types can occur simultaneously, usually Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular dementia . The symptoms will be a mixture of those found in the co-occurring dementia types.

More information

See the following sites for more in-depth information on dementia: