What is dementia
Dementia affects over 800,000 people in the UK, but is not a natural part of ageing. Dementia is used to describe a large group of signs and symptoms and affects people in lots of different ways. For example, some might struggle with everyday tasks relating to their memory and language, whilst others may have trouble eating.
On average, a person who is living with dementia may live for 8 to 12 years. This can vary depending on the person's age and general health.
What causes dementia
Dementia is caused by diseases that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer's disease. In these diseases, there is damage to and loss of nerve cells in the brain. This damage cannot be reversed with current medical treatments because:
- When a nerve cell dies it cannot usually be replaced. This means that the condition slowly gets worse over time.
- As more and more cells die the brain starts to shrink. This shrinking is called 'brain atrophy', and it can be seen in a brain scan of someone in the later stages of the illness.