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Dementia is a growing problem that affects so many people’s lives across the country. In fact, in the UK alone, there is an estimated 800,000 people living with the condition, and this number is expected to grow to one million by 2021.

Dementia Awareness Week, which takes place from 17th-23rd May, highlights the importance of boosting understanding and support for the condition, whilst removing the stigma that often comes with a dementia diagnosis. Public awareness and understanding will therefore positive affect people living with dementia.

What is Dementia?

Despite the fact dementia affects so many people across the country, many of us know surprisingly little about it. Dementia is an umbrella term for a group of symptoms that can affect a person’s memory or reasoning, and are caused by diseases or conditions that affect a person’s brain.
One of the most common forms of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, and both dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are commonly confused. Alzheimer’s is, however, a form of dementia, and you can read more about the differences of the condition here. There are other varieties of dementia that can affect many people across the world, such as vascular dementia and fronto-temporal dementia.

What are the Dementia Symptoms?

Each individual living with dementia will respond in a different way to another person, especially in the early stages. How a person lives with the condition is often determined by their support system and environment.

Those living with dementia will suffer from cognitive symptoms, which will affect their memory and thinking. Symptoms often include:

• Day-to-day memory loss

• Language problems

• Concentration and problem-solving issues

• Orientation difficulties

• Visuospatial problems

As well as cognitive problems, a person may suffer from swift mood changes, as they may become anxious, irritable, withdrawn, upset or unusually sad. Other common symptoms include delusions or hallucinations.

Dementia is progressive and so will gradually develop over time, and the rate will be determined by the person. Advanced signs of dementia may include agitation, repetitive questioning, pacing and restlessness. A person may also suffer from various physical problems such as muscle weakness, weight loss and may have a change in appetite or sleep pattern.

Show Your Support for Dementia Awareness Week

There are so many ways you can show your support for Dementia Awareness Week.

1. Share this article with your loved ones to boost awareness and understanding.

2. Join Alzheimer’s Society’s #DoSomethingNew campaign – which encourages people to embark on a new activity or adventure – to prove that life doesn’t end after a dementia diagnosis.

3. Tweet about Dementia Awareness Week – share statistics, videos, stories, etc. Use the hashtag #DAW2015

4. Join one or more of the dementia events happening in your local area – get involved and spread the word.

5. Make a donation to a dementia charity, such as Alzheimer’s Research UK or Alzheimer’s Society.

If you suspect that you or a loved one maybe living with dementia, it is vital you book an appointment with GP immediately. While there is unfortunately no cure for the condition, there are medications available to slow down the symptoms, so you can live a full, normal life with dementia.