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Dementia

What should you know about dementia?

Dementia is not a single illness but a series of symptoms caused by the degeneration of the brain and the subsequent gradual loss of mental ability. A person with dementia will primarily experience problems with memory, understanding, judgement, thinking and language.

It is common for other problems to be caused by the condition, such as changes in personality and in the way a person interacts with others in social situations. As dementia progresses, a person's ability to look after themself from day to day may also become affected.


Who is affected?

Alzheimer's disease is most common in people over the age of 65, and affects slightly more women than men.

The risk of Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia increases with age, affecting an estimated 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 and 1 in every 6 people over the age of 80.

However, around 1 in every 20 cases of Alzheimer's disease affects people aged 40 to 65.


Forms of dementia

Most cases develop as a result of Alzheimer's disease. Other forms of dementia include: 

  • Vascular dementia. This is due to problems with the blood vessels in the brain. Brain damage is called by a stroke or a series of tiny mini-strokes.
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). A type of dementia where abnormal proteins called Lewy bodies are found in the brain.
  • Dementia with Parkinson's disease.
  • Frontotemporal dementia. A type of dementia where specific parts of the brain only are affected.
  • Mixed dementia.

It is not always possible to say what has caused 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.

What can you do to prevent it and improve your self-care?

As there is no known cause for dementia it is difficult to know how to prevent or avoid it.

However, there are a number of factors which are thought to contribute to its development and progression. 

They are:

  • increasing age
  • a family history of the condition
  • previous severe head injuries
  • lifestyle factors and conditions associated with cardiovascular disease, i.e.
    • high blood pressure
    • smoking
    • high cholesterol
    • diabetes
    • inactivity
    • being overweight or obese
    • having a family history of cardiovascular disease
    • ethnic background
    • gender
    • alcohol consumption

What if you or someone you care for already has dementia?

There is no cure for dementia but medication is available that can help relieve some of the symptoms and slow down the progression of the condition in some people.

Various other types of support are also available to help people live as independently as possible, such as making changes to your home environment so it's easier to move around and remember daily tasks.

Psychological treatments such as cognitive stimulation therapy may also be offered to help support memory, problem solving skills and language ability.


Outlook

On average, people live for around 8 to 10 years after they start to develop symptoms. However, this can vary considerably from person to person. Some people with the condition will live longer than this, but others will not.

Dementia is a life-limiting illness, although many people diagnosed with the condition will die from another cause.

As it is a progressive neurological condition, it can cause problems with swallowing. This can lead to aspiration (food being inhaled into the lungs) which can cause frequent chest infections. It's also common for people with the disease to eventually have difficulty eating and to have a reduced appetite. 

There's increasing awareness that people with Alzheimer’s disease need palliative care. This includes support for families, as well as the person with the disease.

Contact details for local sources of help.

Leading a healthy, active lifestyle will help to reduce your risk of developing dementia. See here for ways to improve your all-round health and wellbeing.

Alzheimer Café (Farnborough)

One evening per month in Farnborough, with a speaker each time focusing on different dimensions of dementia (3rd Friday of the month, 6pm to 9pm except August)

website: http://www.alzheimercafe.co.uk/Farnborough.htm

email: alzheimercafe@hotmail.co.uk

Tel: 07742699930


Alzheimer Café (Camberley)

Held on the third Monday of the month, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

For more information visit: http://stmaryscamberley.org.uk/alzheimer-cafe/

email: alzheimercafe@hotmail.co.uk

Tel: 07719 080368


Alzheimer’s Society Blackwater Valley

Covers Hart and Rushmoor Districts. Services include dementia support worker, information and guidance. Singing for the Brain Group in Hartley Wintney and support groups in Aldershot, Fleet and Yateley.

Dementia-Forget Me Not Café, St John’s Church, Hartley Wintney – every Tuesday afternoon 14.00-16.00 for people with dementia and their carers – meet carers support professionals in an informal setting. 

email: blackwater@alzheimers.org.uk

Tel: 01256 363 390 or 07900 240829.


Rushmoor Healthy Living

Delivering a variety of projects across the local community, working together with individuals, groups and companies with the aim of improving people’s health and wellbeing, whether through exercise and rehabilitation classes or through health education.

website: www.rhl.org.uk

email: admin@rhl.org.uk

Tel: 01252362660


Andover Mind - Dementia Advice Service (Hart and Rushmoor)

Andover Mind helps people with dementia and their carers, family and friends to get the appropriate support from first diagnosis throughout their illness. They provide dementia advice services in Hart and Rushmoor; Basingstoke, Deane and Alton; Eastleigh, Winchester and Romsey as well as in Andover.

website: http://www.andovermind.org.uk/dementia-advice/

email:  dementiaadvicehartrushmoor@andovermind.org.uk

Tel: 01252 624808


The Royal British Legion / Dementia UK Admiral Nurses

The focus of the service is to maintain independence and improve the quality of life for carers and families of people living with dementia and to provide the practical advice they need. If you, or the person you are caring for, are serving or have ever served in the Armed Forces, we may be able to help.

website: click here

Tel: 02382 025787


Day Care Centres catering for people with dementia

Frogmore Day Care Centre – 01252 876055 (Mon – Fri - transport available)

Rosefield Day Centre for the Elderly , Odiham – 01256 393604 (Tues – Thurs – transport available), Hill House

Dementia Day Care Centre, Ewshot 01252 850236 (Mon-Fri).

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