This year there will be 850,000 people in the UK living with Dementia, or Alzheimer’s. This figure is expected to rise to a staggering one million by 2025, according to Alzheimers Society.
Despite so many people currently living with Dementia, there are still some misconceptions about the condition and it’s symptoms. We’ve put together a list of some of the most important things you need to know about Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
1) There are many different forms of Dementia
There are over 100 types of dementia. The term dementia describes a large spectrum of symptoms that occur when the brain is affected by certain conditions. Although there are so many forms of dementia the most common is Alzheimer’s, accounting for between 50% and 70% of all dementias.
2) Dementia is difficult to diagnose
Making a diagnosis of dementia is often difficult, particularly in the early stages. This is because there is no one simple test and early symptoms – forgetfulness, confusion, anxiousness, or low mood – can be similar to those of lots of other common conditions.
3) Dementia is not a normal part ageing
Dementia was seen as normal part of ageing during the Roman Empire, and was included with conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and even up until the 20th century.
It was not until the mid-1970’s that dementia begun to be described as we know it today.
While it is completely healthy to get a little more forgetful in older age this is very different from types of dementia. It is particularly important as we get older to get our health checked regularly as one in three people over the age of 65 will develop dementia. 44% will go undiagnosed, particularly in the early stages.
4) Dementia can affect you at any point in your life
Most of us associate living with dementia as something that could happen as we age. However, this is not the case. There are around 40,000 under-65’s in the UK who are living with dementia. For younger people Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia.
5) Each person’s experience of dementia is unique
As dementia affects parts of the brain, each person’s experience of living with dementia is different.
We all have unique memories, life experiences, personalities & personal circumstances, and as a result each persons experience of living with dementia will be very different.
6) Dementia can affect your personality
Dementia can totally change someone’s personality. This can be in the way you act, behave or the way you see the world and is different with the various types of dementias.
Some forms of dementia, such as Frontotemporal dementia may affect changes in someone’s behaviour. A person with Frontotemporal dementia who was previously quiet and easy going might become very outspoken. People are also likely to experience visual hallucinations or problems with balance with dementia with Lewy Bodies.
7) Dementia is now the greatest fear for people over 55
For many people illness or serious health concerns in later life are their greatest fears. In a recent survey dementia is now the greatest fear for us as we get older. One in four people are more concerned about developing dementia than any other condition.
8) Dementia has more of an impact on women
With women living longer than men and increasing numbers of people living well past their 80’s, dementia has a greater impact on women. Of the 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia, 500,000 are women. Dementia is now the leading cause of death of women in the UK.
9) There are things you can do to reduce your risk of dementia
The number one thing you can do to reduce your risk of getting dementia is to be physically active. You don’t have to be an Olympian to do this just walk often, go for a run or take a class at the local leisure centre.
A recent study in Wales has shown that it is also hugely beneficial to keep yourself socially and mentally active, maintain a healthy weight, stop smoking, avoid drinking too much and commit to getting your health checked regularly.
Adopting any one of these simple steps would be beneficial in reducing your risk of dementia and the more steps that you follow, the greater the impact.
10) It’s possible to live an independent and active life with dementia
Many people in the UK and across the world live an independent and active life with dementia. When someone is diagnosed, their plans for the future might change, but so many people are facing dementia head on and developing strategies to live well with the condition.
Many people take up new pastimes & hobbies, join groups that support people living with dementia, make new friends, take part in dementia research and continue to work.
Although dementia does make it more challenging to do certain things, the right knowledge and support makes it possible for someone living with dementia to continue to live an active life.