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Dementia is the main causes of disability in later life, what can it mean for your loved one?

When you think of a common condition for the ageing population in the UK, then dementia is one of the conditions that you are likely to think of. It is thought that as many as 850,000 people in the UK suffer with dementia. This equates to 1 in 14 over 65 and 1 in 6 over 80. This number is on the rise and by 2025, it is thought that as many as 1 million people will suffer with dementia.

What is dementia?

Dementia summarises a set of symptoms that are all to do with cognitive function. This includes memory loss, difficulties with thinking, language and problem solving. Dementia occurs when your brain becomes damaged by diseases. These diseases could be Alzheimer’s disease or even a series of strokes. The most common disease is Alzheimer’s.

What are the symptoms of dementia?

Symptoms of dementia start small and will grow to become even more severe as time goes by. Here are some of the most common symptoms of dementia:

  1. Day to day memory issues
  2. Problems with planning, organising or concentrating
  3. Difficulties with language, whether that is following a conversation or finding the right word for something
  4. A decline in visuospatial skills, this comes in the form of judging distances or seeing objects in 3D
  5. Losing track of the day or the date, or being confused as to where they are

What is the long-term outlook for someone with dementia?

One of the most common questions that are asked when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia is what is the long-term outlook for them? The thing to remember with dementia is that it is a progressive condition. Over time the symptoms will get worse, however, how quickly this happens will depend on the person.

As dementia progresses, the person is likely to behave in a way that is unusual or out of character. These behaviours include pacing, restlessness, being agitated and asking questions repeatedly.

In the long term, the person who has dementia is also likely to see that they start to develop physical symptoms. This includes weight loss, muscle weaknesses and changes to sleep patterns and appetites.

What can you do to help?

Now you know more about dementia and how it is likely to progress, you may be wondering what you can do to help?

If you are looking after someone with dementia, then it is important to make sure that they feel secure and comfortable in what they can do. One of the best ways that you can do this is to create a regular daily routine that they can carry out. You should also try to encourage them and not criticising them.

It is important that the person feels involved in everyday tasks and that they have a feeling of self-worth.

Above all else, you need to treat them with care and patience too. This is one of the simplest things that you can do as a carer, or as a relative.

Dementia doesn’t ever mean that you have to forget the person that you have had in your life for so long. They are still there and you still should love them just as much as ever. In fact, they are going to need you more than ever. 

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