Dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning. There are many different causes of dementia, and many different types.
People often get confused about the difference between Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia and, together with vascular dementia, makes up the majority of cases.
Alzheimer's 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.
Worried someone has dementia?
If you are worried about a friend or family member who you know is becoming increasingly forgetful, encourage them to speak to a GP to talk about the early signs of dementia. There are other reasons why someone might be experiencing memory loss. However, if dementia is found early, its progress can be slowed down in some cases, so the person may be able to maintain their mental function for longer.
You may like to suggest you go with your friend or relative to see a GP so you can support them. You'll also be able to help them recall what has been discussed.
Memory loss is not the only sign of dementia, yet it is one of the main signs. Some of the other signs of dementia include:
- increasing difficulty with tasks and activities that require concentration and planning
- changes in personality and mood
- periods of mental confusion
- difficulty finding the right words or not being able to understand conversations as easily
For more information on how to talk to someone you think has signs of dementia, there is advice on the NHS website here Worried someone has dementia - NHS - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Living with dementia
Dementia can affect all aspects of a person's life, as well as those around them.
If you have been diagnosed with dementia, it's important to remember that:
- you're still you, even though you have problems with memory, concentration and planning
- everyone experiences dementia differently
- focusing on the things you can still do and enjoy will help you to stay positive
With the right help and support when you need it, many people can, and do, live well with dementia for several years.
Living at home when you have dementia
In the early stages of dementia, many people are able to live at home and enjoy life in the same way as before their diagnosis.
Following a dementia diagnosis, you should have been given advice on how you can keep doing what is important to you for as long as possible as well as information about local support and services that you may find helpful.
But as the illness gets worse, it is likely that you will find it more difficult to look after yourself and your home. You may then need extra help with daily activities, such as housework, shopping and adaptations to your home.
What is a Dementia Coordinator?
A Dementia Coordinator will be your point of contact throughout your experience of dementia. They work with your doctor’s surgery to help provide support and guidance to people affected by dementia. They will work with you to access the information, support and guidance you need to enable you to get the most out of life and understand your condition.
What can a Dementia Coordinator do for me if I think I may have dementia?
If you think you may have dementia or are worried about your memory it is important to get the treatment and support, you need. A Dementia Coordinator will help you understand why it is important to find out if you do have dementia and what tests and examinations may be involved.
What about after my diagnosis?
When you are ready, your Dementia Coordinator will work with you and your memory clinic to ensure that you feel supported . They will be on hand to work through any questions or concerns you may have, as well as keeping in regular contact with your GP. A Dementia Coordinator can also signpost you to other relevant support services covering many aspects of daily life such as wellbeing, socialising, benefits and they will be there for your family as well. Your Dementia Coordinator will be local to your area and therefore will be familiar with local support services available to you.
Your Dementia Coordinator will continue to support you throughout your experience of dementia and help you plan for the future. They will get to know you and what matters to you. When you are ready they will visit you at home (or wherever suits you) and create a plan so you know how they will help you.
How can I find my local Dementia Coordinator?
North Kent and West Kent –
You can call our Dementia Coordinator line on 0800 035 2221 or email email@example.com and someone will get back to you. You can also contact your GP surgery or memory clinic and ask them to refer you directly to us.
East Kent -
Tel: 01622 943 257
Types of post-diagnostic services available across Kent:
Peer Support Groups
Dementia Drop Ins
Singing Back the Memories
Activity Groups/ COGs
Dementia Day Support
Carers Learning Groups
24 Hour Dementia Helpline
The dementia helpline (county wide) telephone number is: 0800 500 3014
Further details about the helpline can be found here.