Dementia is a common condition that affects about 800,000 people in the UK. Your risk of developing dementia increases as you get older, and the condition usually occurs in people over the age of 65.
Dementia is not a disease but a syndrome (collection of symptoms) that results from damage to the brain. These symptoms can be caused by a number of conditions. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. The most common symptoms include:
- 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.
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.