Dementia is a term used for a range of progressive conditions that affect the brain. Doctors describe it as a a group of symptoms that include memory loss, disorientation, and difficulties speaking and understanding and that worsen over time.

Each type of dementia impairs a person’s capacity to remember, think, and communicate by preventing their brain cells’ (neurones’) appropriate functioning in particular regions.

Memory Problems;

  • increasing forgetfulness
  • difficulty retaining new information
  • getting lost in places that used to be familiar
  • struggling with names
  • misplacing things frequently

Cognitive Ability;

  • difficulty understanding time and place, e.g., getting up in the middle of the night to go to work, even if they’re retired
  • difficulty with choosing what to buy and paying when shopping
  • struggling with decision-making and reasoning
  • loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • restlessness, e.g. pacing, fidgeting and trying to leave the house


  • struggling to find the right words
  • repeating themselves often
  • difficulty making and following conversation
  • difficulty reading and writing
  • becoming quieter and more withdrawn
  • loss of interest in socialising
  • loss of confidence
  • changes in personality and behaviour
  • mood swings, anxiety and depression

Anyone can get dementia, although persons over 65 are more likely to do so.

Dementia has more than 200 subtypes. Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and mixed dementia are the most prevalent types.

Over a million Britons are predicted to develop dementia by 2025, and practically all of us will be familiar with someone who has the disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease

The most prevalent kind of dementia in the UK is Alzheimer’s disease. It results from a build-up of proteins in the brain that impede the communication between brain cells.

Some of the symptoms are listed below and they tend to get worse over time;

  • difficulty remembering recent events (often retaining a good memory for past events)
  • poor concentration
  • difficulty recognising people or objects
  • poor organisational skills
  • confusion
  • disorientation
  • slow, muddled or repetitive speech
  • difficulty performing everyday tasks such as cooking, paying bills, and shopping
  • problems with decision-making

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but medication is available to help slow its progression.

Vascular Dementia

The second most typical form of dementia is vascular dementia. Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), which are often the result of strokes or “mini strokes,” are the main cause of this condition. The brain suffers cell damage as a result of this.

When someone experiences a TIA or a bigger stroke, their condition frequently changes abruptly and then plateaus (levels off). However, the injury frequently results in a person’s ability to function differently than before.

Small vessel disease, or vascular damage to the brain’s smaller vessels, can also occur, however symptoms may appear more gradually.

The signs of vascular dementia, which include memory issues, disorientation, and communication difficulties, frequently resemble those of Alzheimer’s disease.

Although symptoms can vary depending on which part of the brain is affected, they may involve particular issues with;

  • language
  • reading
  • writing
  • sudden changes in mood
  • walking
  • bladder control

Lewy Body Dementia

Movement and motor control (the capacity to regulate voluntary motions for specific tasks, such as walking, getting dressed, and using cutlery) are both impacted by Lewy Body dementia, a degenerative disorder. Compared to other varieties of dementia, memory loss is frequently less severe.

Some of the symptoms of someone with Lewy Body dementia might:

  • be prone to falls
  • have sudden bouts of confusion
  • have tremors (shaking or trembling, similar to Parkinson’s disease)
  • have trouble swallowing
  • experience disrupted sleep patterns due to intense dreams/nightmares
  • have visual (sight) and auditory (hearing) hallucinations
  • shuffle when they walk

Young Onset Dementia

Any form of dementia whose symptoms appear before the age of 65 is referred to as young onset dementia. It may also be referred to as “working age dementia” or “early onset dementia.” Young-onset dementia is thought to affect 5% of those who have the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and frontotemporal dementia are the three most prevalent kinds of dementia in younger individuals. Dementias that are rare and genetically passed down, such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, are also more prevalent in younger people.

Memory loss may not be the first sign; rather, difficulties with language, eyesight, behaviour, and/or personality may be present. This can cause a delay in diagnosis because the symptoms might be mistakenly linked to another issue, including depression, stress at work, or relationship issues.

Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia affects the frontal lobes of the brain: the part that controls behaviour, learning, personality, and emotions.

All ages can be affected, however those between the ages of 45 and 65 are more likely to experience it than those over the age of 65.

The diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia might be challenging. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression are occasionally confused with one another.

Uninhibited behaviour and inappropriate social behaviour are both symptoms of frontotemporal dementia. Eating habits may also be impacted, resulting in unexpected food binges, especially for sweets.

Mixed Dementia

Two distinct forms of dementia, most frequently Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, can coexist.

An individual with mixed dementia will exhibit a variety of the symptoms linked to the different types of dementia they have.

Getting a Dementia Diagnosis

If someone you know is exhibiting symptoms of dementia, get them to a doctor as soon as you can. It is crucial to rule out other treatable conditions with comparable symptoms, such as infections, thyroid difficulties, circulatory issues, vitamin deficiencies, sleep apnea, stress, and depression.

The patient’s medical and family history should be obtained by the doctor, who should also inquire about any changes in behaviour, mood, or short-term memory.

The doctor may next ask for blood tests, a chest X-ray to look for any chest diseases that might be the source of the symptoms, an MRI or CT scan to look at the brain’s structure, and/or blood testing.

The person may also be referred to a memory service, clinic, or expert for additional research, evaluation, and potential therapy.

Stages of Dementia

Dementia comes in many different forms, and they are all progressive. This shows that even while symptoms might first seem to be mild, they typically get worse over time. Among these include issues with language, cognition, memory, problem-solving, and abrupt changes in emotions, perception, or behaviour.

A person with dementia will eventually need a lot of help just to get by each day as their condition progresses. But because dementia affects people differently, the kind of help needed and how quickly this happens may vary.

It can be helpful to think of there being three stages of dementia:

  • early stage
  • middle stage
  • late stage

These can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on how much an individual is affected by the symptoms.

These stages can be utilised to assist people in making plans for the future and gaining knowledge of how dementia is anticipated to change over time. The stages also aid in predicting the most likely time for specific treatments, such as Alzheimer’s disease drugs, to be successful.

Dementia progression rates vary greatly from person to person due to things like:

  • the type of dementia – for example Alzheimer’s disease, tends to progress more slowly than the other types
  • a person’s age – for example, Alzheimer’s disease generally progresses more slowly in older people (over 65) than in younger people (under 65)
  • other long-term health problems – if a person has other health issues like heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure, especially if they are not well-managed, dementia tends to advance more quickly.
  • delirium– a medical condition that starts suddenly

How can you help someone with Dementia?

There are lots of things you can do to help, for example;

  • maintain a positive outlook
  • accept support from other people – including friends, family and professionals
  • eat and sleep well
  • not smoke or drink too much alcohol
  • take part in physical, mental and social activity

A person with dementia should also make an effort to maintain their health by:

  • managing any existing health conditions as well as possible
  • having regular health check-ups, particularly for their eyes and ears
  • asking their GP about jabs – for seasonal flu and pneumococcal infection (that can lead to bronchitis or pneumonia).

Useful Numbers

Carers UK
0808 808 7777 (helpline, 9am–6pm Monday–Friday)
Carers UK gives carers advice, information and support.

The Lewy Body Society
01942 914000
The Lewy Body Society raises awareness of DLB among the general public, medical professionals and decision maker. It also provides information resources for people with DLB and carers.

Rare Dementia Support
020 3325 0828
Rare Dementia Support works to support people affected by five rare dementia conditions: familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD), frontotemporal dementia (FTD), familial frontotemporal dementia (FFD), posterior cortical atrophy (PCA) and primary progressive aphasia (PPA).

We hope this information and advice has or can help you in some way if you know someone experiencing Dementia.

Please get in contact with us if you would like to discuss First Aid or Mental Health training to enable you to feel confident and assist in an emergency. Please call us on 01276 586943 or email us at