What is Dementia?

Dementia is caused by a number of diseases that affect the brain. The most common is Alzheimer's but diseases also include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy Bodies and Pick's disease.

Different types of dementia affect the brain at different rates and in different ways, but other things like someone's personal circumstances, the people around them and the environment in which they live, will affect their experience of dementia. Dementia progresses in a way that is unique to each individual.

It is true that more people over 65 have dementia(external link) but it is not exclusively an older person's disease; younger people get dementia too(external link).  

Five thing you need to know about dementia:

  • Dementia is not a natural part of the ageing process.
  • Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain.
  • It is not just about losing your memory.
  • It's possible to live well with it.
  • There is more to the person than the dementia.


What difficulties do people with dementia have?

Dementia often starts with short-term memory loss but it can also affect the way that people think, speak and do things. People with dementia can become confused, find it difficult to communicate, as they can't remember the words that they want, and can have difficulties planning.

Dementia also affects people's moods and motivations. This can happen if the disease affects that part of the brain that controls emotions, but even if this does not happen, people with dementia can feel sad, frightened, frustrated or angry about what is happening to them.

However, with a helping hand, people living with dementia can still enjoy their hobbies, have good relationships with partners and friends and live independently for longer.

 "I have to write things down. Sometimes, even if I write them down I don't remember them. But I tell my family where I'm going and things, so somebody will ring me up and tell me what is happening. And my friend gave me a board to stick everything on." Clarice, London


What are dementia friendly communities?

People are often happier if they can live independently in their own homes for longer. Dementia friendly communities(external link) are villages, towns and cities where more people understand dementia, there is less fear and avoidance, and people living with dementia are included and supported to live independently for longer.

The Dementia Friends initiative is helping to turn communities across England into dementia friendly communities. Join Dementia Friends today. Take one of our Friends' information sessions so you understand more about dementia and how you can turn your understanding into action. Every action counts.

And if you'd like to do more, you can register as a Dementia Friends Champions and help to inspire other people to understand dementia better. Because, together, we can make life better.

"I enjoy going for walks in the park. Sometimes we visit the neighbours or go to the temple with friends." Poopal, London