Dementia rates are increasing
Around 850,000 people in the UK have dementia. By 2025 this number is expected to rise to over one million, with a projected rise to over 2 million by 2050 (find out more from Alzheimer’s Research). So if you or someone you know is diagnosed with it, you are not alone. It mainly affects older people, both men and women, but it can be found in younger people. In the UK over 40,000 people under 65 years of age have dementia. Around two-thirds of people with dementia are women, the reason for this is unclear.
Typical early signs of dementia
There are several types of dementia of which the most common is Alzheimer’s Disease. The typical early signs of dementia are:
- struggling to remember things - difficulty in recalling recent events
- difficulty in working things out - finding it hard to follow conversations, remembering how to get dressed or make a cup of tea
- difficulty picking up new skills - struggling to learn how to use a new appliance
- struggling to adapt to physical & sensory changes - loss of confidence and difficulty with hearing aids, new glasses or walking aids
- difficulties with orientation - problems wayfinding in familiar surroundings and coping with changes within the home environment
These symptoms occur when the brain is damaged, for example following a stroke or the onset of Alzheimer's Disease.
Everyone is different
The symptoms of dementia increase over time. It is gradual, and everyone experiences the changes at different speeds. There is no cure but there are treatments that help slow it down or help people cope with certain symptoms. And there are lots of ways of helping people live a full and happy life. These range from simple adaptations in the home to support from health and social care professionals, to financial help.
Having dementia does not automatically mean you have to go into a care home or hospital. Two-thirds of people with dementia live in the community. Being old doesn't automatically mean you will get dementia. It is just more common in the elderly. Around 80 percent of people aged over 80 are bright and alert, if occasionally forgetful.