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Dementia is a combination of several symptoms that are associated with the declining abilities of the brain and its functions. There may be a decline in thinking, memory, cognition, language skills, understanding and judgement.
Over time people with dementia worsen and may have problems controlling their emotions or behaviour. They may need the help of their family, friends or caregivers in making decisions. They may eventually become apathetic to their surroundings. The cause of dementia lies in the damage to the structure of the brain.
Dementia is a common condition. In England there are 570,000 people living with dementia. With the rise of the elderly population and increase in life expectancy the number of people with dementia is predicted to rise over the next three decades.
Usually dementia occurs in people who are 65 or over. It is rarely diagnosed in the under 40s. By the age of 80 about one in five are affected, and 1 in 3 people in the UK will have dementia by the time they die. Dementia is slightly more common in women than in men.
Dementia may be of 100 different types. Some of them include:
Sometimes dementia may be accompanied by other mental disorders like mood swings, anxiety and depression and confusion.
Many other illnesses can cause dementia. These may include viral infections such as HIV, Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, chronic heavy alcohol intake, Huntington's disease, progressive supranuclear palsy and normal pressure hydrocephalus, Multiple sclerosis and Motor neurone disease.
There is no cure for dementia. In most patients the symptoms worsen over time.