Dementia is a progressive disorder that affects how the brain works and in particular the ability to remember, think and reason.
As they get older, some people notice the brain is not as agile and the memory not as sharp as it used to be. It's a common observation, but many of us wonder if these memory problems could be an early sign of dementia.
Here we look at what is known about dementia, symptoms that could suggest you should seek further advice, steps to reaching a diagnosis, and where you or your family can go for more specialist information about dementia treatment and support.
Dementia is predominantly a condition that affects older people although it affects people under 65 too. In Northern Ireland approximately 19,000 people are living with dementia, a number projected to rise to almost 60,000 by 2051, the fastest expected rate of increase in the UK (DHSSPS 2010).
If dementia is diagnosed early enough there are lots of things that can be done to help you live well with dementia.
What is dementia?
Dementia is not a disease in itself - but a group of symptoms that may accompany conditions that affect your brain.
The most common of these is Alzheimer’s disease. Another is vascular dementia which can develop following a stroke or if there is blood vessel damage that interrupts the supply of blood to your brain. Dementia is not a normal consequence of growing old.