What is dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of progressive conditions that affect the brain. There are over 200 subtypes of dementia, but the five most common are: Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia and mixed dementia.
The brain is made up of nerve cells (neurones) that communicate with each other by sending messages. Dementia damages the nerve cells in the brain so messages can’t be sent from and to the brain effectively, which prevents the body from functioning normally.
Regardless of which type of dementia is diagnosed and what part of the brain is affected, each person will experience dementia in their own unique way.
Dementia can affect a person at any age but it is more commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 65 years. A person developing dementia before age 65 is said to have young onset dementia.
There are over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and this is set to rise to over one million by 2025.
Types of dementia
These are the most common types of dementia:
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia in the UK. It is a physical condition caused by changes in the structure of the brain, due to a build up of ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’, and this can result in a shortage of important chemicals that help with the transmission of messages. Alzheimer’s disease can affect concentration, decision making and everyday living skills.
Alzheimer’s symptoms tend to develop gradually over time. These may include:
Difficulty remembering recent events while having a good memory for past events
Issues recognising people or objects
Poor organisation skills
Slow, muddled or repetitive speech
Reduced ability to perform everyday tasks such as cooking, bill paying, shopping etc.
Problems with decision making.
Medication is available to help slow progression but it does not prevent or cure Alzheimer’s disease.
Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia. It is caused by problems in the supply of blood to the brain, commonly due to strokes or a series of small strokes, known as Trans Ischemic Attacks (TIAs), which cause areas of cell damage in the brain.
Changes in a person’s condition as a result of TIAs or a larger stroke are often sudden, before their condition plateaus. But the damage caused often means the person does not function quite the same way as they did before.
The signs and symptoms of vascular dementia depend on which area of the brain has been affected. Language, reading, writing and communication can be affected in vascular dementia. Memory problems may not be an issue initially, if this area of the brain has not been damaged, although they may occur later on.
Frontotemporal dementia is a progressive condition, which tends to affect younger people, usually aged 45 to 65 years, and can be difficult to diagnose. The region of the brain most affected is the frontal lobes. Frontotemporal dementia affects behaviour and personality, and this can cause disinhibition and inappropriate social behaviour. Eating patterns can also be affected, with people suddenly bingeing on food, especially sweet foods. This form of dementia can sometimes be confused with depression, stress, anxiety, psychosis or obsessive compulsive disorder.
Dementia with Lewy bodies
Dementia with Lewy bodies is a progressive condition that affects movement and motor control. A person with dementia with Lewy bodies might:
Be prone to falls
Have tremors (similar to Parkinson’s disease)
Have trouble swallowing
Shuffle when they walk
Experience disrupted sleep patterns due to intense dreams/nightmares
Have visual and auditory hallucinations due to the nerve cell damage.
Memory is often less affected than with other types of dementia, but a person might experience sudden bouts of confusion which can change on an hourly basis.
It is possible to have not just one but two types of dementia. The most common is a combination of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, known as mixed dementia. A person with mixed dementia would experience a mixture of the symptoms associated with the types of dementia they have.
How we can help
As a CQC Outstanding Rated Company, George Springall Homecare have years of proven experience in caring for people with dementia.
Whether you’re looking for ongoing support from a live-in carer or regular, daily visits form one of our fully trained care workers, choosing George Springall Homecare means your loved one can have one-to-one attention in their own home. One of the fey factors that we provide with Dementia care is providing continuity of care for your loved one. We consider this an extremely important factor when it comes to Dementia care. We’re helping people every day to cope with the various challenges that come with dementia and memory loss. With many different strains of this sometimes debilitating condition, and many different stages, one of our fully trained carers will maintain your loved one’s everyday routines and can ease the strain on your family.
Please contact us today to find out more about our dementia care services and the many flexible options for dementia care at home.
For further information on Dementia please visit Dementia UK