Dementia is caused by different diseases of the brain. These diseases affect the parts of the brain which are normally used for learning, memory and language.

Here are a few things that dementia isn’t:

  • it isn’t a single disease
  • it isn’t a normal part of ageing
  • it isn’t the same experience for everyone
Dementia is caused by many diseases that damage the nerve cells in the brain. The ability to remember, plan, use language, find your way around and regulate mood and behaviour may be affected. The most common causes of dementia are:
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Vascular dementia
  • Mixed dementia (a combination of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular pathology in the brain) and,
  • Lewy Body Dementia.
Although Dementia usually affects people as they get older, it’s not a normal part of ageing. Nine out of ten older people don’t get dementia. Younger people can get dementia too; in someone under 65, this is known as early or younger onset dementia.
Most cases of dementia are progressive so the symptoms get worse over time. How dementia affects any one individual can vary from person to person. Each individual will experience it differently and be affected in their own way. What someone with dementia can do, remember and understand may change from day to day.

Understanding dementia

Few people understand what dementia is. This lack of knowledge and understanding can make it difficult for people with dementia, their families and their carers. People are not being intentionally unkind; they often don’t know what to do or say. Sometimes that can make them avoid those living with dementia and their loved ones, which can appear hurtful.
It’s important that we all learn to understand dementia better so that we can offer support and help people with dementia. This allows people with dementia to be engaged in their community and in society.
Life changes when someone develops dementia but it doesn’t end. By understanding dementia together, we can help people live well with dementia.
Although there is no cure for dementia, effective help is available and include:
  • Medication and other treatments,
  • A range of community supports
  • Practical adjustments and adaptations to the person’s life and home.
People can live well with dementia. Support from family, friends and the wider community are important.

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