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What is Dementia?

Dementia is a term which encompasses several progressive medical conditions that have an effect on the brain.

It is used to describe symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, spatial awareness, understanding and decision making that gets worse over time.

Dementia is more common in people over 65, however it can (and does) affect younger people. This is referred to as young onset dementia and it usually affects people between the ages of 30 and 65.

Because dementia is normally associated with older members of the population, often the symptoms of young onset dementia can be missed. Instead, conditions such as depression, perimenopause, menopause or stress might be diagnosed and sadly this can mean that people with young onset dementia have to wait longer to get the right support.

It’s important to note that dementia is not a normal or inevitable part of aging; many people do not develop dementia or related symptoms as they age.

What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?

People often get confused between dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. Alzheimer's Disease is a type of dementia which makes up the majority of dementia cases. It is caused by a build-up of protein in the brain which affects the brain over a period of time.

What are the different types of dementia?

There are over 200 types of dementia. In addition to the most common type – Alzheimer’s Disease – there is also:

• Vascular dementia

The second most common type of dementia. This is caused by blood vessels in the brain, specifically arteries, becoming damaged. It reduces blood flow to the brain and affects how our brain cells work.

• Lewy body dementia or Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB)

The third most common type of dementia. It is caused by small round clumps of protein that build up inside the nerve cells in the brain. Because this damages the nerve cells, it affects the way our brain cells communicate. The areas of the brain affected affect thinking, memory and body movement.

• DLB and Parkinson's

DLB is closely related to Parkinson's disease. With similar symptoms, it is not always easy to tell if a person has DLB or Parkinson's as the timings of the onset of memory and thinking problems is not always clear.

• Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

This is a rarer type of dementia and caused by a build-up of proteins in the frontal and temporal lobes. It causes a change in personality, mood, memory loss, confusion and difficulty with day-to-day tasks.

You are not alone

• There are at least 16,650 people that live with dementia in West Sussex. This is expected to rise to 22,450 by 2030.

• There are currently 944,000 – 1 million people living with dementia in the UK. This number is predicted to grow to 1.6 million by 2040

• World-wide there are 55 million people living with dementia

• 70,800 people under the age of 65 have dementia in the UK

• More than half of people with dementia wait for up to a year for a diagnosis. In our catchment area, the process is currently taking less than 6 months, with all people assessed being diagnosed at Sage House.

For more details on the help and support available for people living with dementia and their carers and families, get in touch with a member of our Wayfinding team today.

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