FAQs

For more information about Dementia we would recommend visiting the following websites: Alzheimer’s Research UK, Alzheimer’s Association or the National Institute of Aging.

Click on their web addresses below:

www.alzheimersresearchuk.org

or     www.alz.org

or   www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers

At the present time there are no cures for dementia.

Most people start by visiting their GP (often with a friend or relative) but if your symptoms are mild you could be referred to a specialist who knows more about dementia, such as a neurologist, an old age psychiatrist, a geriatrician or a psychologist.

A memory assessment called a Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) usually forms part of the diagnosis but try not to get stressed about this. It’s nothing like any test or ‘exam’ you might have taken before – there’s no ‘pass or fail’! It’s simply designed to give the doctor a clearer idea of the kind of problems you might be having.

Other physical tests such as blood or urine tests might also be carried out, usually to rule out other conditions such as thyroid deficiencies, urine infections, which can all cause symptoms similar to dementia.

A brain scan (usually a CT scan or an MRI scan) may be suggested as well, to see exactly what’s happening inside your brain and to rule out other conditions such as tumours or bleeds.

There is some evidence to suggest that the following conditions may increase the risk of dementia:-

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • stroke
  • type 2 diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • depression
  • Down’s syndrome
  • early memory and thinking problems known as mild cognitive impairment or MCI

According to the Alzheimer’s Society there are around 800,000 people in the UK with dementia. One in three people over 65 will develop dementia, and two-thirds of people with dementia are women. The number of people with dementia is increasing because people are living longer.

The main difference between Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia appears to be the way in which symptoms begin and progress. Since a common cause of vascular dementia is stroke, specific symptoms often begin quite suddenly but then the person may stabilise for a period.

We now know dementia is a disease symptom, and not a normal part of aging. There are over 100 diseases that may cause dementia. The most common causes of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies.

As dementia becomes more common as people get older, many of us will have a relative living with the condition – but this does not mean we will inherit it. Most of the time the genes we inherit from our parents will only have a small effect on our risk of developing dementia. In most cases our likelihood of developing dementia will depend on our age and lifestyle, as well as the genes we have.

No, but most people with dementia are over the age of 65. In the UK over 40,000 people with dementia are under 65, around 5% of the total. Many of these people are likely to be in their 50s or early 60s, but some rare forms of dementia can affect people even younger.

Yes. In the UK 61% of people with dementia are female and 39% are male. This is mostly because women tend to live longer than men and as dementia becomes more common as we age, there are more women to develop the condition.

Some studies have suggested that other factors may affect the number of women and men with dementia, but there is no firm evidence that women are more likely than men to develop dementia at a particular age.

There is no sure way to prevent dementia, but we do know some of the risk factors for dementia, and these can be changed. These risk factors are the same as for cardiovascular disease (like heart disease and stroke). By leading a healthy lifestyle and taking regular exercise you will be lowering your risk of these diseases, and it’s likely you will lower your risk of dementia too.

To keep healthy:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Keep active and take regular exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Only drink alcohol within recommended limits
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Control cholesterol levels

Most of us forget things every day, like people’s names or where we put our keys, but this is not necessarily a sign of Alzheimer’s or dementia. In dementia, memory loss is more serious than forgetting things occasionally – it is memory loss that starts to interfere with everyday life.

There are many reasons why people become forgetful; some medicines and drugs can affect memory; depression, anxiety, vitamin deficiency and thyroid problems can also cause forgetfulness, stress can also cause us to forget things, so it’s important to get the right diagnosis. If you are worried about your memory, if it’s getting worse, or interfering with everyday life, then you should talk to your GP.