Dealing with dementia

There are an estimated 30 million people living with dementia – you may not be a sufferer, but you could be caring for someone who is SuperBad 3. Here are some facts about what dementia is, and what it isn’t.

What is dementia?

  • Dementia is when a person loses mental functions such as memory, thinking and reasoning – often severe enough to interfere with a person’s ability to function normally.
  • Dementia isn’t a disease – it’s really a group of symptoms caused by other diseases or conditions. These symptoms often include changes in a person’s personality, mood and behavior.
  • Dementia develops when the parts of the brain involved with learning, decision-making, language and memory are affected. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause, but there are also other causes, such as stroke damage.

What are the symptoms of dementia?

A person who’s suffering from dementia might not be able to think clearly enough to perform normal daily activities such as eating or dressing themselves, or they could experience periods of being agitated, aggressive or emotional, and their personality might change. Other symptoms include:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty in performing everyday tasks
  • Problems with language
  • Problems with keeping track of events
  • Changes in mood or behaviour
  • Confused about time or place
  • Poor or decreased judgment
  • Losing things
  • Changes in personality
  • Loss of initiative

Dementia is common in elderly people, but it’s not considered a part of healthy ageing. Also, while memory loss is a common symptom of dementia, memory loss on its own doesn’t equal dementia. People with dementia have serious problems with two or more brain functions, such as memory and language.

Read  Helping someone with Alzheimer’s disease

Dealing with dementia

Most types of dementia can’t be cured, but if it’s detected early, the condition can be slowed down, and it’s possible to maintain mental function. Diagnosing dementia early is important as this ensures a person gets the right treatment, and it helps the family prepare and plan for the future. With the right information, support and treatment, many people are able to lead active, satisfying lives.