What is dementia?

15 Apr 2016

Dementia is a collection of symptoms caused by disorders that affects the brain. The most common is Alzheimer’s disease.

A diagnosis of dementia can be distressing, not only for the person affected, but for their loved ones too. When someone is first diagnosed, they might not seem to have changed very much. The early signs include things like:

  • mild confusion
  • being more forgetful than usual
  • difficulty in carrying out everyday tasks

Just because someone shows these signs, it doesn’t mean they have dementia. The condition progresses gradually, which means the signs will become more noticeable over time.

Eventually, the person might not be able to remember common words, they might not recognise friends and family, or they could become lost in a familiar place. Sometimes emotions and personality are affected too.

The risk of dementia increases with age. The movie Still Alice tells the story of ‘early onset’ or ‘younger onset’ dementia. It can be quite frightening to think of this happening to you or someone you love, but it’s very unusual to develop dementia under the age of 65.

Even among over 65s, dementia isn’t inevitable, and in fact most older people DON’T develop any form of dementia.

It’s important to get help and advice in the very early stages. This will make it easier to keep the person with dementia living comfortably at home for as long as possible. It will also help family to get support, so that they can continue to enjoy quality time with their loved one and avoid too much stress.

In the later stages, people living with dementia need a lot of support. They become unable to take care of themselves, and it might become impossible to meet their needs in their home environment any longer. At this stage it often becomes advisable for them to move into permanent residential care. Whilst this can be a difficult decision, be reassured that there are some excellent care centres specialising in dementia care.

If you want to find out more about dementia and the support available to you, call us on 1300 26 26 26 and explore the Dementia Care section of our website. Alternatively, call one of our McCusker Nurses direct on 9424 6396 (northern suburbs) or 9424 6697 (southern suburbs).

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