12 Common
Health Conditions

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About Dementia

When someone has dementia their brain slowly stops working. This causes:

  • Problems remembering things.

  • Problems with thinking clearly.

  • Changes to how they feel and act.

  • Problems doing normal activities.

There are different types of dementia. The most common types are:

  • Alzheimer’s disease

  • Vascular dementia.

Dementia is most common in people over the age of 65.

A healthy lifestyle can make it less likely that you will get dementia when you are older. Try to:

  • Eat healthy food.

  • Be a healthy weight.

  • Be active and do exercise.

  • Not drink too much alcohol.

  • If you smoke, stop smoking.

What Are The Symptoms Of Dementia?

Symptoms are signs that something is wrong. People with different types of dementia might have different symptoms.

Some common early signs that someone has dementia are:

  • Not being able to remember things.

  • Finding it hard to do everyday things (which they were able to do before).

  • Being confused about where they are and what time it is.

  • Changes in their mood.

As dementia gets worse, these problems become much bigger.

The most common later signs that someone has dementia are:

  • Memory problems like:

– not recognising their close friends and family

– not knowing where they are

– forgetting where they live.

  • Finding it hard to speak – some people may stop speaking at all.

  • Finding it hard to move around without help – some people may stop being able to walk.

Picture of a man looking sad
  • Changes in the way they behave – like becoming very anxious or depressed.

  • Wetting themselves.

  • Losing weight.

  • Having problems eating and swallowing.

You should see your GP if you are worried about dementia.

It is a good idea to take someone with you who knows you well.

Your GP will ask you questions and will do some tests.

They might send you to see a specialist doctor. They might do more tests.

Tests for dementia might include:

  • Asking you questions.

  • Getting you to do tests to check your memory and thinking.

  • Blood tests.

  • Brain scans.

Treatment And Care For Dementia

It can be a shock to find out that you have dementia.

Picture of a man looking sad

There is no cure for dementia – this means it cannot be made to go away.

But your doctor can help you to get the right treatment and support.

This can help slow down how quickly your brain stops working.

Many people with dementia are able to keep doing the things they want and enjoy their lives for years.

Treatment for dementia can include:

  • Medicine.

  • Alternative therapies – these are natural medicines you can buy in a health food shop.

  • Treatments that don’t involve medicine.

Medicine

Medicine can help to make the problems caused by dementia smaller. There are some different types of medicine.

You can get side-effects from taking the medicine like:

  • Feeling sick and dizzy.

  • Headaches.

Easy read picture for constipation
  • Problems going to the toilet (constipation).

These side-effects usually only last a few weeks.

Alternative therapies

Some people with dementia use alternative therapies like coconut oil.

We do not know whether these things work.

Sometimes they can stop other medicines from working.

If you are thinking of trying this, speak to your doctor first.

Treatments that don’t involve medicine

These treatments can help you to feel better.

  • You can join a group and do activities to help your memory (this is called cognitive stimulation therapy or CST).

  • A specialist can help you to learn how to use different parts of your brain (this is called cognitive rehabilitation).

  • You can talk to other people about your past, using photos, props and music (this is called reminiscence).

  • You can make a book about your life (this is called life story work).

Keeping well

It is important to try and keep yourself well:

  • Try to spend time with other people.

  • Try to keep doing activities you enjoy.

  • Join a dementia-friendly group – it can be good to talk to other people with dementia.

  • Eat healthy food.

  • Try to do exercise.

  • Get enough sleep.

Help and support

If you live independently, you can get things to help you keep living in your own home.

This could be things like a personal alarm which lets someone know if you are in danger.

As your dementia gets worse you will need extra help and support.

You should have a care plan. This should say what care you and anyone who supports you needs. It should be checked once a year.

If you need help to manage everyday things like washing or cooking, you should have a needs assessment.

Other things you may need to think about

  • If you work you should speak to your employer.

Under the law they have to make reasonable changes to help you to keep doing your job.

If you need to stop working, you can speak to Jobcentre Plus about getting benefits.

  • Make sure you and anyone who is caring for you are getting all the benefits you should get.

  • If you drive you need to tell the DVLA that you have dementia. You might be able to keep driving if it is safe to do so.

  • It is a good idea to make plans for the future. You can choose someone you trust to make decisions about your care and your money in the future. This is called a ‘lasting power of attorney’.

  • You should make a will to say what you want to happen to your money and your things when you die.

More help and information

  • Admiral nurses helpline

Telephone 0800 888 6678

Email helpline@dementiauk.org

  • Alzheimer’s Society and National dementia helpline

Telephone 0300 222 11 22

Website www.alzheimers.org.uk

  • Age UK

Telephone 0800 055 6112

Website www.ageuk.org.uk

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