Dementia is a syndrome associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities. This includes problems such as memory loss, thinking speed, mental ability, language, understanding, judgement, concentration and perception.
People with dementia can become uninterested or lack enthusiasm for their usual activities, and may have problems controlling their emotions. They may also find social situations challenging, lose interest in socialising, and have aspects of their personality that may change.
Dementia occurs as a result of the death of brain cells or damage in parts of the brain that deal with our thought processes. Some forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease, are degenerative - they get worse over time. Other forms of dementia, such as vascular dementia, may not get worse over time.
Symptoms of dementia include:
- loss of memory – for example, forgetting the way home from the shops, or being unable to remember names and places
- mood changes – particularly as parts of the brain that control emotion are affected by disease. People with dementia may also feel sad, frightened or angry about what is happening to them
- communication problems – a decline in the ability to talk, read and write.
In the later stages of dementia, the person affected will have problems carrying out everyday tasks and will become increasingly dependent on other people.
Rates of dementia vary between men and women and between age groups. Dementia is almost invariably a disease of ageing. Dementia in people under 65 is known as early onset or pre-senile dementia, and is rare.
Dementia is difficult to deal with, whether you live with the condition or support someone who does. Here are five things to try if you are feeling low.