What is Dementia?
While many people may refer to dementia as a disease, it is actually a syndrome, or a group of symptoms that impact brain function. These symptoms can start small but have the potential to severely impact an individual’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks and process information.
Dementia happens when the brain becomes damaged. This can happen as a result of Alzheimer’s disease, a stroke, traumatic head or brain injury, reduced oxygen supply to the brain, or a build up of protein and abnormal structures in the brain. The effects of diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease can also sometimes lead to dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common causes of dementia. In fact, it accounts for around 60-80% of cases. This is followed by vascular dementia, which is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain. It is estimated that vascular dementia affects around 150,000 people in the UK according to the NHS.
Dementia can affect anybody under certain circumstances. But it is more prevalent in individuals over the age of 65. While there are certain ‘risk factors’ that can be attributed to the onset of dementia, it is usually very difficult to say for certain which of these risk factors were involved in its development, and whether it was at all preventable or not.