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Dementia

Are you worried about your memory or that of a loved one?

It is estimated that 800,000 people in the UK have dementia. Many of those with the condition have never received a diagnosis and do not receive the services or support that they are entitled to. It is thought that around 50% of people with dementia living in Southend have never received a diagnosis and are not receiving the services and support they might need.

If you are worried about your memory, visit your GP or contact the Southend Memory Clinic advice line on 01702 435555 ext 6146.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a term used to describe a number of different diseases that affect the brain. There are a number of myths about dementia, there can be a lot of unfair stigma attached to having dementia and many people are frightened at the thought they might have dementia. All these reasons often mean the person delays seeking help. Although there is no cure for dementia yet, with the right treatment, support and services you can live well with dementia and carry on with normal activities for a long time.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and occurs in about 70% of all cases of dementia. It usually, but not always, affects older people and the risk of developing the condition increases as you get into your 80’s. Vascular dementia is caused by interruptions in the blood flow to the brain. Anything that increases your risk of having a stroke will increase your risk of developing vascular dementia. You can reduce your risk by not smoking, having regular blood pressure checks and eating a healthy diet.

Most of the early signs of dementia happen gradually and include problems with memory. However, as we get older we all become forgetful which is a normal part of ageing. Dementia, however, is not a normal part of ageing and is different from just being a bit forgetful. Typically, the person who might have dementia will experience significant problems in:

  • remembering recent events or things they did
  • problems with language (saying the right words)
  • regularly misplacing everyday items, or putting things in odd places – and then forgetting or even denying having done so
  • problems with everyday tasks; for example, preparing a meal, putting it on the table, but forgetting to eat it and then preparing it all over again
  • general disorientation, such as failing to recognise familiar streets and frequently becoming confused about the time of day
  • diminished judgement, for example dressing inappropriately for the weather or being unaware of dangerous situations
  • mood or behavioural problems which may resemble depression; usually a mixture of agitation, irritability, apathy and lack of care with personal hygiene.

Early signs of vascular dementia are similar, but the decline can happen in distinct steps rather than gradually.

If any of these examples seem familiar to you or you are worried about your memory make an appointment to discuss with your GP today, don’t put it off till tomorrow.

Page last updated: 14/03/2014