About dementia

Dementia is not a specific disease. It's a term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills. It is called dementia if the decline is severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities.

Alzheimers disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common dementia type. There are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia. Some of these are reversible, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies.

Dementia affects around 850,000 people in the UK. It usually occurs in people aged over-65, but it’s not a natural part of ageing. Dementia need not stop you living a full and fulfilling life. Many people with dementia continue to work, have hobbies and socialise.

Further information about types of dementia from the Alzheimer's Society.

Dementia symptoms

Dementia is often associated with memory loss but different types of dementia can have a variety of symptoms. These are some of the possible symptoms of dementia:
• Memory loss
Difficulty with tasks that need organisation and planning
• Becoming confused about place or time, particularly in unfamiliar environments
• Difficulty finding the right words or following conversations
• Changes in personality and mood
• Difficulty judging distance or seeing objects differently to how they are
• Hallucinations and delusions
• Muscle wasting, changes to balance and posture or difficulty in physical movement

You can find more information about the symptoms of each type of dementia on the NHS Choices website.

The Alzheimer's Research UK website has a helpful visual diagram that allows you to tour the brain. You can find out how dementia can affect different areas of the brain.

If you are worried about memory loss

If you are worried that you are becoming more forgetful, you should visit your GP to talk about your symptoms. It is important to know that there are many reasons for memory loss apart from dementia. It can be normal for your memory to decline with age. Stress, tiredness, illness and some medication can also affect your memory.

Dementia is a progressive disease; the symptoms get worse over time. It is important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. You may be able to get treatment to slow down the progress of the disease. This will also allow you more time to plan for the future and to access support to help you live well with the condition.

If you think that someone you know may have dementia, NHS Choices and the Alzheimer’s Society have tips for starting a conversation with them about your concerns.

If you have been diagnosed with dementia

If you, or a friend or relative, have recently been diagnosed with dementia, you may be feeling scared, anxious or sad. There is currently no cure for dementia. But it is important to know that with many people who have the condition lead active, fulfilling lives. Treatment, advice and support is available.

  • There is local and national support available for people living with dementia. Go to our Community directory and search under 'Specific needs' and then 'Dementia'.
  • The Hampshire Dementia Advisor Service  is available to anyone who has received a diagnosis of dementia. The service focuses on wellbeing rather than illness and offers support and advice.
  • The Alzheimer’s Society offers a Live Online advice service. They also have an online discussion forum, Talking Point, for anyone affected by dementia.
  • AskSara have an online self help guide on how to use technology to help you live well with dementia.
  • The Unforgettable  website features information and advice as well as products and aids to help people living with dementia and their families.
  • My House of Memories app is an easy to use app designed for, and with, people living with dementia and their families and carers. It allow you to explore objects from the past and share memories together.
  • The Iridis app , developed by the University of Stirling, can make simple suggestions about adaptations to your environment which can improve the quality of life for people living with dementia.
  • People who are severely mentally impaired may be 'disregarded' for Council Tax purposes. Read the fact sheet about this from the Alzheimers Society.
Last reviewed: 11/05/2018

Useful links

Hampshire Dementia Advisor Service

Alzheimer's Society  Live Online advice service

AskSara  self help guide