The word ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss, difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language, as well as changes in mood or behaviour.
These symptoms are often less apparent to begin with, but over time can become harder to manage. Dementia symptoms are often caused by Alzheimer’s disease or brain damage caused by a stroke.
The specific symptoms that someone with dementia experiences will depend on the parts of the brain that are damaged and the disease that is causing the dementia.
There are many treatable conditions which display the same symptoms as dementia, including some infections or depression. Getting to the bottom of what is causing the memory problems can enable you to access the right advice, treatment and support which is why many people seek a diagnosis.
The first step toward getting a diagnosis will be to have an assessment. The professional who carries this out might be your GP, a geriatrician, a mental health specialist and/or a neurologist. This might include a range of different conversations and medical tests.
- You will likely be invited to share your history with your GP, dating back to when the symptoms started. People often chose to include a friend or family member in these conversations.
- There may also be health checks including blood tests, which can help to determine if there are other causes for the symptoms, for example an infection.
- There may be tests to assess your memory and other cognitive functions including puzzles and memory games.
Living with dementia
Everyone experiences dementia in their own way, and it is often possible to live well with dementia and to continue to do the things you enjoy. There are many factors which can affect a person’s experience of living with dementia, including: their attitude to the symptoms they’re experiencing, their relationships, the support they get and the services available in their community, as well as any medical treatment that may be appropriate.
For dementia related activities please use our Community Services Directory and filter based on your postcode.
‘The Somerset Dementia Wellbeing Service is a collaboration between dementia services who are working together to improve diagnosis, enhance support in the community and provide an excellent, consistent service for people with dementia and their carers in Somerset’
The Alzheimer’s Society is the UK’s leading dementia charity. They campaign for change, fund research to find a cure and support people living with dementia today. You will find lots of useful information, guidance and links to support on the Alzheimer’s Society website.