Dementia is a syndrome, or a group of symptoms that consistently occur together. It is not a specific disease. The term “dementia” is used to describe a set of symptoms that can include memory loss, difficulty thinking, problem solving, or issues with language. Dementia is caused by damage to the brain cells, and because Alzheimer’s is a disease that destroys the brain, it is one of the most common causes of dementia.
If you’re becoming increasingly forgetful, particularly if you’re over the age of 65, it may be a good idea to talk to your GP about the early signs of dementia.
As you get older, you may find that memory loss becomes a problem. It’s normal for your memory to be affected by age, stress, tiredness, or certain illnesses and medications. This can be annoying if it happens occasionally, but if it’s affecting your daily life or is worrying you or someone you know, you should seek help from your GP.
My Dear, I Love You
From one who has Alzheimer’s, and yes it is hard
Just for a moment, let me share from my heart.
Please forgive me for the things that I say.
If I were well, I would not be this way.
Although I can’t tell you, I’m so glad you are here.
But I know you are hurting, cause I see your tears.
I wish I could tell you, what you mean to me.
Could we please go back to what used to be?
But no, we are here, and I’m a stranger it seems.
Though I might wish otherwise, it’s more than a dream.
Please, just remember, when I curse and yell,
it’s not really me that you see, just my shell.
In spite of the difficult days we’ll go through,
this one thing is true…my Dear…I love you.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a common condition. Your risk of developing dementia increases as you get older, and the condition usually occurs in people over the age of 65.
Dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities. This includes problems with:
- memory loss
- thinking speed
- mental agility
People with dementia can become apathetic or uninterested in their usual activities, and have problems controlling their emotions. They may also find social situations challenging, lose interest in socialising, and aspects of their personality may change.
A person with dementia may lose empathy (understanding and compassion), they may see or hear things that other people do not (hallucinations), or they may make false claims or statements.
As dementia affects a person’s mental abilities, they may find planning and organising difficult. Maintaining their independence may also become a problem. A person with dementia will therefore usually need help from friends or relatives, including help with decision making.
Your GP will discuss the possible causes of memory loss with you, including dementia. Other symptoms can include:
- increasing difficulties with tasks and activities that require concentration and planning
- changes in personality and mood
- periods of mental confusion
- difficulty finding the right words
Most types of dementia can’t be cured, but if it is detected early there are ways you can slow it down and maintain mental function.
Why is it important to get a diagnosis?
An early diagnosis can help people with dementia get the right treatment and support, and help those close to them to prepare and plan for the future. With treatment and support, many people are able to lead active, fulfilled lives.