Everything on Alzheimer and Dementia

About the disease?

The term 'dementia' is used to describe the symptoms that occur when the brain is affected by specific diseases and conditions. Symptoms of dementia include loss of memory, confusion and problems with speech and understanding.

Symptoms and diagnosis?

We have information for anyone worried about potential symptoms of dementia including if you are worried about your own memory or someone else's.

Research has identified many risk factors associated with dementia. It's impossible to eliminate every single one; after all we can't avoid age, which is the most significant. While it is possible to develop dementia early in life, the chances of doing so increase dramatically with age. One in 50 people between the ages of 65 and 70 have a form of dementia, compared to one in five people over the age of 80.

Diagnosing dementia is often difficult, particularly in the early stages. The GP is the first person to consult. The GP may then refer the person being diagnosed to a specialist consultant.

Assessments can include conversations with the person being diagnosed and those close to them, a physical examination, memory tests and/or brain scans.

Becoming forgetful does not necessarily mean that you have dementia. Memory loss can be an effect of ageing. It can also be a symptom of stress or depression. In rare cases, dementia-like symptoms can be caused by vitamin deficiencies and/or a brain tumour.

A definite diagnosis of the cause of dementia may only be confirmed at post mortem or, in very rare instances, through a brain biopsy.

After receiving a diagnosis of dementia, it is important to consider what to do next. To help with this, you may want to find out more about dementia so that you can get a better idea of what to expect.

You may also want to think about driving, health, legal decisions, working, money and benefits. Planning for the future can make things easier to manage later on so take advantage of all the advice, services and support available to you.

In most instances, there are no ways to cure the diseases that cause dementia. However, there are drugs available that may alleviate some of the symptoms. Drug treatments for Alzheimer's disease: Aricept, Exelon, Reminyl and Ebixa. There are a variety of drugs that can help the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease or slow the progression of the disease.

Living with the disease

A diagnosis of dementia can come as a shock. Even if you have been half expecting it, this will be a worrying and upsetting time. It can also be hard for those close to you. You will all need a great deal of reassurance and support. However, there is much that you can do in the early stages that can help to make life easier and more enjoyable, both now and in the future.

Caring for a person

When a person with dementia finds that their mental abilities are declining, they often feel vulnerable and in need of reassurance and support. The people closest to them - including their carers, friends and family - need to do everything they can to help the person to retain their sense of identity and feelings of self-worth.