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What is dementia?

Last Updated: 15 January 2019








What is dementia?

A new report from the Alzheimer’s Society reveals that more than 42,000 people below the age of 65 suffer from dementia – twice as much as previously thought, and it is now the biggest killer of women in England and Wales.

Three quarters of cases come from people aged between 60-65, but the disease can occur in people as young as 30. The report predicts that the number of early-onset dementia is set to rise by 20% over the next 40 years.

Symptoms of dementia:

  • Poor short term memory

  • Difficulty organising, making decisions, carrying out a sequence of tasks

  • Difficulties following a conversation or finding the right word.

  • Losing track of days, dates and places

  • Difficulties judging distances

  • Mood swings, increased irritability

Dementia is a progressive disease, which means that it gradually gets worse over time. People with the disease may not seem like themselves and develop unusual behaviours.

The most common types of dementia include:

Alzheimer’s – where chemical connections between brain cells are lost and brain cells die.

Vascular dementia – where brain cells die due to lack of oxygen supply to the brain.

Mixed dementia – a mix of different types of dementia. It’s possible to have both Alzheimer’s and Vascular dementia for example.

Dementia with Lewy bodies – where tiny abnormal structures called Lewy bodies develop in brain cells and cause them to die.

Frontotemporal dementia – Where abnormal proteins inside nerve cells cause them to die.

Many people find their memory becomes less reliable as they get older, but it does not necessarily mean it is dementia. Memory loss can be caused by other things too such as depression. Still, if you are or know someone who is experiencing the symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

How is dementia treated?

Currently there is no cure for dementia but there are a number of therapies and support available to help people live better lives with the disease. There are also some drug treatments available to slow the progression of symptoms.

If you are worried about dementia, visit the Alzheimer’s society website.



Written by Ruth Tongue
(MSc Nutrition)


Healthy ageing
Mental health
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