Five things you might not know about dementia

Sailmakers Shopping Centre in Ipswich has trained a number of 'dementia friends' to help customers.

Sailmakers Shopping Centre in Ipswich has trained a number of 'dementia friends' to help customers. Picture: James Fletcher Photography Ltd - Credit: James Fletcher Photography Ltd

As Dementia Awareness Week gets underway, a charity is breaking down some myths and misconceptions about the condition.

Alzheimer’s Society has released five key facts about dementia, which affects hundreds of patients and their families across Suffolk and Essex.

1. Dementia is an umbrella term

The word dementia describes a set of symptoms which can include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. With certain types of dementia, such as vascular and frontotemporal, there is damage to the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, affecting 62% of those diagnosed.

2. Dementia isn’t a natural part of ageing

It mainly affects people over the age of 65 however there are more than 42,000 people under 65 living with dementia in the UK. Dementia affects everyone differently.

3. With support, patients can continue to live well

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Dementia is progressive, meaning symptoms gradually get worse. However, many people living with dementia lead active and fulfilling lives for many years with help from others.

4. By 2021, one million people will have dementia

There are 850,000 people in the UK who have a form of dementia. It has replaced heart diseases as the leading cause of death in England and Wales, accounting for 11.6% of all deaths registered in 2015. Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer, with someone developing it every three minutes.

5. There is no cure for dementia

Drugs do exist for Alzheimer’s disease which can improve symptoms or temporarily slow progression, in some people. There are no licensed medical treatments for other forms of dementia. Research is continuing, however the charity says funding is still far too low.