What is dementia?

Dementia is not one specific disease, but an umbrella term that is used to describe over 70 different illnesses that affect how well our brain works. Alzheimer’s is one of the most common types of dementia. Vascular dementia is another more common type of dementia. There are many other forms of dementia, but they are all diseases of the brain which can cause:

  • Problems with memory
  • Problems with everyday tasks, like handling money.
  • Problems with communication
  • Problems with perception

While some changes in our memory and thinking can occur as we get older, dementia is not a normal part of the ageing process. Memory and thinking problems should be investigated by visiting a doctor to find out what is causing these. The problem may be dementia, or there may be another problem that can be treated.

Dementia is a progressive condition – in that it starts off with mild symptoms and gets worse over time. Every person with dementia is affected differently. How quickly and in what ways the disease progresses will depend on each individual. 

There is no current cure for dementia, however, there are a number of things that people with dementia and their family/whanau can do to live well and support their wellbeing.

You're not alone, discussing dementia - Episode 1: About Dementia

The above clip is from Alzheimers Australia. It begins with people with dementia and their partners talking about the symptoms they had noticed prior to a diagnosis. Then, Professor Henry Brodaty, explains further about what dementia is, signs and symptoms, types of dementia and when to seek help.

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