Dementia isn’t a single disease; it is a term used to describe the symptoms that occur when there’s a decline in brain function.1
There are a number of different causes of dementia, of which the most common is Alzheimer’s disease, thought to be linked with the build-up of abnormal ‘amyloid plaques’ and ‘tau tangles’ in the brain.1 Certain other types of dementia also have an abnormal build-up of tau protein in the brain; as a group, these are termed ‘tauopathies’.2
In the early stages, people with Alzheimer’s disease suffer from symptoms such as worsening memory. At first, they may notice things like losing or misplacing objects more often or forgetting names and places. They may also worsen in their ability to make judgements, to manage their affairs, and to plan things. There are often signs of mood changes too, such as an increase in anxiety or agitation and periods of confusion.3 As the disease progresses, sufferers with the condition may find it increasingly difficult to recognise their own family members and friends and often have problems controlling their mood, with a tendency to become irritable or agitated.3 The symptoms typically emerge and worsen over a period of years.3 Alzheimer’s disease most commonly affects people over the age of 65.4
There’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease but there are treatments available that can help to relieve some of the symptoms. Making changes to a person’s home environment can sometimes help with making it easier to move around and remember daily tasks.4
People with dementia may ultimately become dependent on a caregiver.3
Gain a deeper understanding of Alzheimer’s disease here.