What is dementia?
Dementia seems to be an ever increasing part of life as society moves towards an ageing population. It’s estimated that in 2015, 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia and yet so many families don’t really know what lies behind the headlines.
When we talk about dementia, we’re referring to a collection of symptoms, usually subtle at first, that vary from person to person but may include memory problems, problems with thinking clearly, forgetting words or changes in behaviour and mood.
Dementia is a progressive illness that can’t yet be cured but there is a lot that can be done to make living with the disease easier for patient & families alike such as support from Community Mental Health & Memory Assessmentteams and care agencies such as ourselves.
These are the main forms of dementia:
It’s the most common form of dementia and the one that most people have heard of. Plaques of abnormal protein are formed within the brain and over time, the brain cells stop communicating effectively with one another. Memory problems often surface first along with difficulty in visual/spatial orientation which can make driving a danger.
People with Down’s syndrome are at particular risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia as they get older.
This is caused when the damage to the brain’s cells is caused by a loss of oxygen. In other words, a stroke or mini-stroke (you’ll hear medical staff sometimes refer to these as CVA (Cerebrovascular accident) & TIA(transient ischemic attack). It can come on suddenly or slowly after a series of mini-strokes and may give rise to intense confusion with very similar symptoms to Alzheimer’s disease.
As you might expect, when someone has both Alzheimer’s dementia and vascular dementia, this is known as a mixed dementia and is not at all uncommon.
Dementia with Lewy bodies
Lewy bodies are tiny abnormalities within the brain’s cells that ultimately lead to the death of the brain cells themselves. Day to day memory loss is often less than in those with Alzheimer’s dementia and sympoms often include hallucinations and problems with spatial awareness & distance. There is a close link to Parkinson’s disease and some symptoms may overlap.
Abnormal proteins again form within the brain’s nerve cells, eventually causing them to die. In Frontotemporal dementia, the damaged cells are within the front & side parts of the brain giving rise to problems with speech, the meaning of words or personality changes.
Pick’s Disease is one form of Frontotemporal dementia and often includes loss of language (aphasia), wandering and lowered inhibitions. With Pick’s disease, personality change usually occurs prior to any memory loss – unlike Alzheimers which is typically the reverse. A feature that Doctors use to determine the form of dementia present.
Other Causes of dementia
There are some other, albeit rarer, causes of dementia such as HIV infection, progressive supranuclear palsy, CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) and alcohol induced brain damage such as Korsakoff’s syndrome.
How to find the right care for you or your relative
1. Find your local office
Bluebird Care delivers care from locally based offices, find yours to start your care journey today.
2. Get in touch with us
Fill in our call back form or give us a call to find out how we can help you.
We’ll come out to you to find out what you or your loved one needs to help stay independent at home.
4. Care team chosen & care starts
You'll be cared for by our specially trained team to support you to remain at home for as long as possible.