A lot of Life to Live
A diagnosis of dementia does not mean that life stops there and then. The progression of the disease can be slow for some and many people live with a good quality of life for 10-20 years. That's an awful lot of life to live!
What is dementia?
Dementia is a general term to describe problems with memory and thinking. The early signs of dementia can be very subtle and may not be immediately obvious. However, common symptoms are: memory loss (particularly recent memory), confusion, personality change, withdrawal and loss of ability to do everyday tasks.
There are different forms of dementia and each has its own causes, with Alzheimer's disease being the most common. Dementia affects brain cells and is progressive and irreversible.
People with dementia differ in the patterns of problems they have, and the speed with which their abilities deteriorate.
Dementia can happen to anybody, but is much more common in people over the age of 65.
Although the onset of dementia cannot yet be stopped or reversed, an early diagnosis gives people with dementia a greater chance of benefiting from existing treatments and allows them and their families more time to plan for the future.
Taken with thanks from the Alzheimer's Australia brochure "Friends - you can make a difference"
Different types of dementia
Alzheimer's Disease - is a physical disease which attacks the brain resulting in impaired memory, thinking and behaviour.
Vascular Dementia - is the broad term for dementia associated with problems of the circulation of blood to the brain.
Frontal Lobe Dementia - is the name given to any dementia caused by damage to this part of the brain. It includes Pick's Disease, but can be caused by other diseases.
Dementia with Lewy Bodies - is a dementia which is caused by the degeneration and death of nerve cells in the brain. People suffering from this form of dementia can have visual hallucinations, delusions, and difficulties judging distance.
Alcohol Related Dementia - caused by the excessive drinking of alcohol. This affects memory, learning and other mental functions.
AIDS Related Dementia - when someone has HIV and AIDS they may develop a complication to the disease which is known as AIDS related dementia. This is a complicated syndrome made up of different nervous system and mental symptoms. The incidence of this dementia is uncommon in people with early disease, but increases with the advance of the disease.