What is dementia?
Dementia is not a disease, but an umbrella term for a collection of symptoms that result from damage to the brain caused by different diseases1.
What are the effects of dementia?
Dementia can have a devastating effect, not only on the individual diagnosed, but also on families, carers and wider society2. It is important to consider the needs of the individual and their support network.
What are the early symptoms?
Different types of dementia can affect individuals differently, and they will experience symptoms in their own way3. However, there are some common early symptoms that may appear some time before a diagnosis of dementia; these include:
- Memory loss
- Finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks
- Difficulty concentrating
- Being confused about time and place
- Difficulty finding the right words or struggling to follow a conversation
- Changes in mood
“Dementia is not a disease, but an umbrella term for a collection of symptoms that result from damage to the brain caused by different diseases.”
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for around 62% of dementia cases4. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible progressive brain disorder caused by degeneration of brain tissue and nerve cells. Specific symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
- problems with memory – especially recent events, names and faces, routes, and asking questions repetitively
- increasing difficulties with tasks and activities that require organisation and planning
- becoming confused in unfamiliar environments
- difficulty with numbers and/or handling money in shops
- becoming more withdrawn or anxious
Can dementia affect movement?
In the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and especially seen in vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies, an individual’s cognitive and physical decline can result in the lack of ability to move effectively, safely and independently. Problems can include:
- Reduced muscle mass due to reduction in physical activity
- Complex motor sequences becoming less coordinated resulting in difficulty mobilising and an increased risk of falls
- Eventually becoming confined to one position
What postural challenges can result?
NHS Choices (2017) Dementia guide Available from: www.nhs.uk/conditions/dementia/
Public Health England (2018) Dementia: applying All Our Health Available from: www.gov.uk/government/publications/dementia-applying-all-our-health/dementia-applying-all-our-health
NICE (2018) Dementia: assessment, management and support for people living with dementia and their carers [NG97] Available from: www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng97
Alzheimer’s Society (2018) Alzheimer’s Society’s view on demography Available from: www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-us/policy-and-influencing/what-we-think/demography