If you’re over 65, you might be aware that you’re at an increased risk of developing dementia.
Dementia is the term used to describe a collection of symptoms that occur as a result of damage to the brain.
It is sometimes confused with Alzheimer’s Disease, but Alzheimer’s is just one of number of different diseases that can cause this damage.
There isn't a cure for dementia at present, but there are ways to slow the progression of the disease and maintain your mental function.
Dementia can affect people of all ages, but the older you are, the more at risk you are of developing the condition. However, it's important to remember that dementia is not a natural part of ageing.
There are around 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. The condition affects 1 in 14 people over 65, and 1 in 6 people over 80.
Some of the early indicators of dementia are often attributed to age. Symptoms often develop slowly, over years, and as a result, are often missed. Knowing what to look out for could help you get the right support.
The symptoms of dementia
The most common symptoms of dementia include memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and confusion. For instance, you might struggle to think of a particular word you want to use, or find it difficult to count out the correct money when buying something in a shop – even if this is a task you do on a daily basis.
Some people notice that they get lost or disoriented when they are outside, even if they are going to a place they visit regularly. Others might find it difficult to make decisions, or experience changes in their personality.
It can be difficult to realise that you’re experiencing these symptoms. Your family and friends might notice before you do. Alternatively, you might notice them developing in someone close to you.
If you think you might be experiencing the symptoms of dementia, it’s best to book an appointment with a GP. They will be able rule out any physical conditions that could be causing your symptoms, and if necessary, begin the process of getting a diagnosis.
Your GP will also be able to let you know what support you are able to access. This could include signposting you towards local memory cafes or workshops, where you can obtain information and support in an informal setting. Some individuals with dementia are also eligible for financial or housing support.
Read more: What is Alzheimer's?