There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today. By 2025 this number is expected to rise to just over 1 million.
Dementia is a word used to describe a collection of symptoms that occur when brain cells stop functioning properly. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, but there are others.
Symptoms include memory loss, confusion, mood changes and difficulty with everyday tasks.
One problem in recognising the various forms of dementia is that it affects people in very different ways. However, some of the most common signs to look out for are:
Memory loss – a declining memory is probably one of the most easy to recognise symptoms. It is more than just being forgetful. As sadly a person who has dementia may not only forget someone's name but will also not be able to recognise that person as being their neighbour or even relative.
Increase in dependency – another example is the increase in number of phone calls. Initially, it can appear quite normal but with time can escalate to the point whereby some family members stop answering their phone. Unfortunately, the caller's anxiety continues and they simply just call again.
Confusion with the time and place – people with dementia will often forget the day of the week, forget even where they live, or return to a home that they used to live in many years ago.
Mood swings or unusual behaviour – a person with dementia may exhibit a change, or changes in their behaviour, becoming unusually emotional, irritable and experience sudden mood swings for no real apparent reason.
Misplacing things – anyone can misplace or forget where their wallet or keys are, but a person who has dementia may put things in unusual places, without reason or logic for doing so.
Someone who has dementia may seem to take on a completely different personality. They might become rude, offensive, oppositional, irritable, anxious, depressed and suspicious.
The 'once upon a time' everyday routine becomes a trial – people with dementia often find that simple everyday tasks such as getting out of bed, washed, dressed and putting their clothes on in the right order, or the appropriate clothes for the right weather conditions no longer makes sense. Look out for things such as unopened post, unpaid bills/invoices and sudden strange changes in their diet.
Generally, the older the person gets, the higher the risk becomes. People in their 80s-90s make up a large percentage of dementia cases. But do not assume that means younger mums/dads or grandparents are just having off days. Some people may start showing the first signs much earlier. Early onset dementia affects over 40,000 people under the age of 65 in the UK.
If you think that any of the problems we have highlighted are affecting your daily life/routine, or the life of someone you know, then the best thing you can do is to address it as soon as