What is dementia?
Dementia is the name for a group of symptoms that commonly include problems with memory, thinking, problem solving, language and perception. Dementia is not a disease in its own right.
It is caused by different diseases that affect the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common. Some other common types of dementia include vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies.
The Alzheimer’s Society website explain what dementia is, including the causes and symptoms, and how it is diagnosed and treated. They also look at the different types of dementia.
Reducing the risk of dementia
Factors such as high blood pressure, lack of physical exercise and smoking – all of which lead to narrowing of the arteries – increase the risk of developing vascular dementia. A healthy lifestyle can contribute to lowering the risk of vascular dementia. This includes stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol consumption, keeping active and eating healthily.
A person who is already living with conditions such as diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure or high cholesterol should follow professional advice to keep their condition under control. Getting depression treated early is also important.
Keeping mentally and socially active into later life may help lower a person’s risk of dementia.
Where to get help and advice
As a first step, you should discuss your concerns with your GP, as it may be that other existing medical conditions or medication you are taking is affecting your memory.
Your doctor may refer you to a memory clinic, where they can assess your condition in more detail.
If you are diagnosed with dementia, there are treatments and support available and your health professionals will be able to help you and your family, or the person who cares for you, to manage your condition and plan for the future.
The NHS - Dementia guide has a lot of information about dementia, including symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
There’s also a wide range of information and guidance if you’re looking after someone with dementia.
Local organisations that can help
These organisation offer support and advice to help you reduce the risk of developing dementia:
Information is available for carers and people living with dementia from these organisations:
NHS health checks and screening
Dementia is included in as part of the NHS Health Check for people aged 65 to 74 years.
Becoming a Dementia Friend can help you understand more about dementia and the challenges people face so you can support them.