Helping someone with dementia? Our checklist helps you to understand the condition and organise the necessary care and support they need.
Dementia is an umbrella term
Dementia entails chronic widespread cognitive impairment (i.e. impaired memory, language, attention, thinking, orientation, calculation and problem-solving) associated with changes to functional abilities (such as dressing, driving, shopping, eating etc.)
Ageing is the single greatest risk factor for the onset of most types of dementia.
During the course of the illness, around 80% of those affected develop behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) such as agitation, aggression, hallucinations, wandering and sleep disturbance. Many behavioural symptoms can be signs of distress - either due to psychotic experiences, discomfort, pain, or basic needs not being met.
Dementia is common
Data from Public Health England show that in England, around 4.3% of people aged 65 years or more have been diagnosed with dementia. Some people can remain undiagnosed for many years and so it’s likely that the figures underestimate the actual numbers and there are more people living with dementia than we recognise.
Dementia has many causes
There are varying reports about the frequency of different types of dementia although Alzheimer’s disease is consistently the most common (50-60%) followed by vascular dementia (17-20%), and dementia with Lewy Bodies (20%). Other conditions such as Frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease and others make up the remaining 10%.
Dementia is a progressive condition
Dementia is a progressive condition, which means that the symptoms will gradually get worse – the level of disease is often classified as mild, moderate or severe .
The condition progresses differently across individuals and the different sub-sets of dementia have different characteristics in terms of early symptoms. Consequently, everyone has their own personal experience of the disease with differing needs for levels and types of care and support.
Dementia services are developing
Historically, dementia services have been poorly addressed requiring dementia charities to relentlessly campaign for improvement. The campaigns continue but there have been promising changes in recent years and a clear Government commitment to improve levels of diagnosis, support, and research. Providing more support post diagnosis is a key pillar of recent service improvement plans.
Key sources of support to help someone with dementia
The following organisations provide invaluable information and advice for people living with dementia, their families, friends and carers. They draw on decades of experience in caring, campaigning and researching for people living with dementia.
Alzheimer's Association Despite its name, this national charity provides support for all forms of dementia, not just Alzheimer’s disease.
The charity supports an online community and has a Helpline: 800 272 3900
Dementia UK This charity provides dementia support for families through their specialist Admiral Nurses. Admiral nurses provide invaluable and compassionate one-to-one support, guidance and solutions. The charity also has a Helpline: 0800 888 6678
The Lewy Body Society This charity is focused on tackling Lewy Body Dementia. They can provide information about the condition, raise awareness and fund research.
The Brain Charity This charity provides emotional support, practical help, and social activities to anyone with a neurological condition (including Dementia and Parkinson’s disease) and to their family, friends and carers. Helpline: 0800 008 6417