Dementia is a common problem, usually occurring in people over the age of 65 years. Dementia in itself is not a disease, but is a collection of symptoms caused by certain conditions.
Dementia has numerous symptoms associated with a decline in brain function, including
• memory loss
• thinking speed
• mental agility
Other symptoms can include:
• difficulties with concentration
• personality and mood changes
• difficulty finding the right words
An early diagnosis helps with getting the right treatment and to plan for the future. In diagnosing dementia, a GP will conduct a series of tests, such as a physical examination, blood test and memory tasks. The doctor may also ask about any medications being taken, as some can cause symptoms that mimic dementia.
If the doctor is unsure of the diagnosis, referral to a specialist is the next step, where further tests will be undertaken, such as a brain scan.
Living with Dementia
Those diagnosed with dementia should still aim to live as independently as they can and carry out their usual activities.
Activities for Dementia
An active social life is essential for the wellbeing of those with dementia. The types of activities beneficial to those with dementia include:
• Arts and crafts
• Sensory activities
• Gentle exercise, such as gym classes for older people
• Meeting with friends/support groups
The Elderly Activities website provides lots of ideas for keeping active.
Care and support
Over time, help may be needed to care for those with dementia. The NHS, Social Services and voluntary organisations can provide helpful advice and support. Please see links below for a number of useful websites.