What is dementia?
We answer some common questions about dementia: What is dementia? How is dementia diagnosed? What are the symptoms?
What is dementia?
WATCH Marg Ryan, head of dementia services at Bupa Aged Care answers the question: What is dementia?
What are the main types of dementia?
- Alzheimer’s disease
This is the most common form. It is caused by damage to the nerve cells in the brain and results in forgetfulness, trouble with speech and difficulty with everyday tasks. Many people are confused about the difference between Alzheimer's and dementia - the key thing to remember is that Alzheimer's is a type of dementia, so they're not mutually exclusive.
- Vascular dementia
This is the second most common form of dementia. It is caused by tiny strokes in the brain and affects behaviour, speech and functioning.
- Dementia with Lewy bodies
This type is caused by tiny protein deposits (Lewy bodies) being present in the nerve cells in the brain. They disrupt normal brain function, causing difficulties with memory, language and reasoning.
What are the symptoms of dementia?
- Memory loss.
- Misplacing things.
- Difficulty remembering simple words.
- Difficulty performing everyday tasks.
- Becoming disorientated easily.
- Change in mood or behaviour.
- Becoming withdrawn and depressed.
What should I do if I think a loved one has dementia?
If you are concerned about a loved one or even yourself, it’s important to speak to a doctor as soon as possible. You're likely to have a lot of questions - the key thing to remember is that you don't have to do it alone.
You can call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500, or if you need help finding extra care for your loved one, try the Bupa Aged Care Support Line on 1800 780 038.
While you may become frustrated or confused with your loved one's changes in behavior, here are some ideas for how you can maintain close bonds with someone living with dementia, and some simple tips for communicating with them effectively.
How is it diagnosed?
- Cognitive tests to measure memory, language and concentration.
- Brain scans (computed tomography [CT] or magnetic resonance imaging [MRI]) to investigate possible brain damage.
Read more about dementia tests and options here.