Here, you can find out everything you wanted to know about Dementia (or at least we hope so!). You can click (or touch) each of the headings below to find out more about specific aspects of the condition.
We hope you find the information useful and if you do, please feel free to share it.
Firstly, let's tell you what dementia isn't. Dementia itself isn't a specific disease in itself, but a collective term used to describe a group of symptoms that affect a person's memory, thought processes and / or social abilities. These symptoms can be mild or are often severe enough to interfere with a person's daily life.
Dementia is a term used when there are problems with at least two of the brain's functions, i.e. speech, impaired judgement or memory loss and the inability to perform normal daily activities, such as paying bills, making telephone calls, etc. It is important to note that memory loss is often a consequence of dementia, but forgetting where you put your keys or not being able to remember your PIN code doesn't mean you have dementia. You might, like me, just be getting old!
Dementia (and its related conditions) are often grouped together by what they have in common, i.e. the areas of the brain or functions they affect, or how they affect people diagnosed with them.
Progressive dementias, such as Alzheimers, are degenerative, meaning that the condition gets worse over time. What may start as quite a small problem, will, over a period of time, get gradually worse and more debilitating. Others are known as 'non-degenerative', meaning they may not get worse.
Dementia is caused by the death or damage to nerve cells in areas of the brain. This can occur in a number of ways. They can be caused by trauma to the head from an injury or repeated impacts from sports like boxing, rugby or American Football. It can also be caused by a lack of blood or oxygen to certain areas of the brain.
In addition, dementia can be caused by pressure on the brain from other medical ailments like a tumour, fluid build-up between the brain and its lining (known as hydrocephalus), an infection, e.g. HIV, certain vitamin deficiencies, a stroke or as a result of a long period of excessive alcohol intake or drug taking.
It can also be caused by a reaction to some medication, but this can often the reversed with treatment.
The symptoms of dementia will vary by condition and every person may experience it differently, especially in the early stages of the respective conditions, but will generally conform later on.
There are more detailed symptoms as part of each condition listed below, but in general they will include a combination of cognitive and psychological changes such as:
- Loss of day-to-day memory.
- Difficulty in performing complex tasks.
- Disorientation and confusion.
- Lack of coordination with motor functions, including writing, organising, etc.
- Personality changes (including becoming uninterested in things they've previously enjoyed).
- Inappropriate behaviour.
- Becoming agitated or paranoid.
- Difficulties in following conversations or finding the right word to say.
Whilst Alzheimers is probably the most well-known form of dementia, it is by no means the only one.
By reading our guides, they will hopefully help you understand what those who live with these dementia go through on a daily basis and, for many, it will help break the stigma of mental illness.
If you feel like there's a condition that has been omitted from this list that you think needs to be included, then please let us know. All the links for getting in touch are below.