Dementia is a broad term used to describe a range of symptoms, the most well known of these being a gradual loss of a person’s memory. Other symptoms can include gradual deterioration in speech, motor skills, thinking and planning, and the ability to carry out daily tasks. People with dementia can lose their ability to control their behaviour and may at times be socially inappropriate or unaware. The disease is progressive, meaning that symptoms become worse over time. Towards the later stages of the disease, people require full-time care from family or staff in a nursing home. Dementia is a terminal disease, and despite the best efforts of our medical researchers, there is currently no cure.
There are a number of different types of dementia, the most common being Alzheimer’s disease, and others including vascular dementia (usually related to stroke), Parkinson’s disease dementia, alcohol-related dementia, and Lewy Body Syndrome. While the risk of dementia increases with age, it is not a normal or natural part of ageing. Although rare, people in their 50s, 40s and even 30s can be diagnosed with ‘younger onset’ dementia.