Dementia

The term ‘dementia’ is used to describe a set of symptoms that occur when the brain is damaged by specific diseases and conditions.

What is Dementia?

The term ‘dementia’ is used to describe a set of symptoms that occur when the brain is damaged by specific diseases and conditions.
Dementia is not a natural part of the ageing process. It mainly affects people over the age of 65 but it affects younger people as well.
All dementias are progressive which means that the symptoms will gradually get worse.

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What different types of dementia are there?

There are many diseases that result in dementia. The most common types of dementia are:
Alzheimer’s disease – This is the most common cause of dementia. Brain cells are surrounded by an abnormal protein and their internal structure is also damaged. In time, chemical connections between brain cells are lost and some cells die.
Vascular dementia – If the oxygen supply to the brain is reduced because of narrowing or blockage of blood vessels, some brain cells become damaged or die.
Mixed dementia – This is when someone has more than one type of dementia, and a mixture of symptoms. It is common for someone to have Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia together.
Dementia with Lewy bodies – This type of dementia involves tiny abnormal structures known as Lewy bodies developing inside brain cells. They disrupt the brain’s chemistry and lead to the death of brain cells.
Frontotemporal dementia (including Pick’s disease) – In frontotemporal dementia, the front and sides of the brain are damaged over time when clumps of abnormal proteins form from inside nerve cells, causing them to die.

Guernsey Alzheimer’s Association
info@alzheimers.gg
www.alzheimers.gg

Alzheimer’s Society Guernsey
01481 233700 Helpline
Michael.Nicholls@alzheimers.org.uk
www.alzheimers.org.uk/guernsey

Symptoms

Each person is unique and will experience dementia in their own way. The different types of dementia tend to affect people differently, especially in the early stages. In the later stages the symptoms become more similar. This is because more of the brain becomes affected as the different diseases progress. How others respond to the person and how supportive or enabling the person’s surroundings are, also greatly affect how well someone can live with dementia.
Symptoms often include problems with some of the following:

  • memory (especially short-term) – forgetting names, places, conversations and appointments
  • carrying out everyday tasks such as handling money or finding the right bus
  • language – difficulties following a conversation or finding the right word for something
  • visual perception – the different ways people interpret what they see.
  • orientation – losing track of the day or date or becoming confused about where they are.

In the later stages of dementia, the person will need more support to carry out everyday tasks. However, many people with dementia maintain their independence and live well for years after their diagnosis.

Top Tips

Top tips for the community interacting with someone with dementia.

  • Asking ‘Can I help you?’ with a friendly smile goes a long way to putting people at ease.
  • Be patient – listen carefully and give people time to reply.
  • Be clear – communicate clearly, maintain eye contact and use body language and props to help, find a quiet place to go.
  • Don’t make assumptions about what someone may want or need – be guided by the individual.
  • Offer support – help the person retain their independence by doing things with them, not for them.
  • Consider feelings – someone with dementia will often remember how they felt more than what you said.
  • Talk about dementia and remember the carer – you will be helping to reduce the stigma surrounding the condition.

If you would like to learn a little more about dementia, why not attend a Dementia Friends Information Session? These are free one-hour long sessions to help you better understand how dementia affects individuals in different ways and how we can make Guernsey a more dementia friendly place to live. To find out more, please email info@dementiafriendly.org.gg or call 245121.

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