Dementia is a term describing a group of symptoms of which two or more occur together. The most common symptoms include confusion; frequent forgetfulness and short term memory loss, mood and personality changes, difficulties in using and/or understanding language.
Dementia becomes more common with age. While only 3% of people between the ages of 65–74 have dementia, 47% of people over the age of 85 have some form of dementia. As more people are living longer, dementia is becoming more common.
Types of dementia (Neuro-cognitive Disorders)
The different types of dementia are based on their different causes. The most common types of dementia are Alzheimer’s, Vascular and Lewy Body.
- Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for between 50 – 70% of all dementia cases.
- Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia and is commonly caused by stroke and heart disease.
- Fronto-temporal dementia affects the frontal lobe of the brain
- Memory impairments and other dementia type symptoms also occur in many other progressive illness such as Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Risk Factors for Dementia
- Gender (females 61%)
- Family history
- Head trauma
- Cardiovascular disease
- Down’s Syndrome
Warning signs for Dementia
- Difficulty performing familiar tasks
- Memory loss
- Problems with language
- Disorientation to time and place
- Poor or reduced judgement
- Difficulty with abstract thinking
- Misplacing things
- Changes in moods or behaviour
- Changes in personality
- Disinterest or loss of motivation and initiative
When people with dementia are put in circumstances beyond their abilities, there may be a sudden change to tears or anger. Depression affects 20–30% of people who have dementia, and about 20% have anxiety. Psychosis (often delusions of persecution) and agitation/aggression also often accompany dementia. Each of these must be assessed and treated independently of the underlying dementia.
If you find you are concerned about signs of dementia then you should make an appointment to see your GP.