Dementia is a medical condition where damage to brain cells causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior.
It's uncommon in people aged under 60. By age 85 around 1 in 5 people will have dementia. While we all get a bit more forgetful as we get older, dementia is different. It is not a 'normal' part of ageing.
Most dementias are progressive, which means they get worse over time.
There are, however, medications and a range of supports – financial, emotional and physical – to help a person with dementia and their family and friends.
Causes Of Dementia
Dementia is most commonly caused by:
- Alzheimer’s disease (tangles and plaques on the nerves connecting brain cells)
- Vascular dementia (caused by strokes or blockages of blood vessels in the brain)
- Lewy body disease (proteins in the brain that damage cells)
- Fronto-temporal dementia (in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain)
A person's genes, environment and lifestyle play a part in whether someone will develop these diseases.
In most cases, doctors and researchers can't predict who will develop dementia.
Age is the greatest risk factor. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and family history are other risks.
Aboriginal Australians are more likely to get dementia. They are also more likely to get it at a younger age.
Symptoms of Dementia
At first you might notice problems with:
- your short-term memory (remembering what happened a few days or minutes ago)
- your ability to remember appointments, or the correct day / date
you might notice:
- making more mistakes at work or at home
- losing things or putting them in strange places
- finding hobbies such as sewing, knitting, or carpentry more difficult
- having trouble keeping track of characters and plots in books or movies
As dementia progresses you might:
- have trouble working out where you are, or what time of day it is
- withdraw from family, friends and social activities
- be unable to remember names, events, places, things and faces
- have mood swings, depression or anxiety
- experience hallucinations
- have changes in your personality
- have changes in your behavior – you might feel angry or be less inhibited
- be unable to walk, wash or dress
- have problems eating or swallowing
The early symptoms of dementia can be vague.
If you have concerns about yourself or someone else you should seek help.
Early and accurate diagnosis of dementia will rule out other treatable issues
Dementia symptoms can be confused with symptoms of depression, infections and other conditions.
Your doctor will only diagnose dementia after a full assessment.
- a medical history
- tests of your memory, thinking, mood and behaviour
- blood tests
- a brain scan
How Can we Help You?
Our healthcare team can
- assess for dementia
- make a diagnosis of dementia
- help you and your family or careers manage the illness
- treat any depression, anxiety or psychotic symptoms (e.g. hallucinations)
- help with behavioral issues such as aggression
- review your medications to find out if they are causing problems with memory and thinking
- link you into community services
We can help you reach psychiatrists who are experts in treating dementia.
There are medications that can help with the symptoms of dementia.
At Hellodoc, we have Psychiatrists and Psychologists who can assess, diagnose, and manage Dementia and related conditions.
If you and your loved ones need assessment, please contact us after obtaining a referral from your GP.
The information on this website is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional. Please speak to your doctor for advice about your situation. HelloDoc is not liable for any consequences arising from relying on this information.