Dementia has now overtaken heart-disease as a leading cause of death in England and Wales, with more people being diagnosed with the condition than ever before.
Nobody survives a diagnosis of dementia but the condition is not an inevitable part of ageing and can be fought through research, this being considered as our “greatest medical challenge”.
But how dementia aware are we?
What is dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term that describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem solving and language.
Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases. There are over 100 different causes of dementia, however the most common four are:-
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Vascular Dementia
- Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB)
- Frontotemporal Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. During the course of the disease, an abnormal protein surrounds brain cells and damages their internal structure. In time, the connections between brain cells are lost and the cells begin to die.
It is a progressive disease which means that gradually, over time, more parts of the brain are damaged. As this happens, the symptoms become more severe.
Vascular Dementia is caused by problems in the supply of blood to the brain. A number of conditions can cause or increase damage to the Vascular System, including high blood pressure, heart disease, Diabetes, high cholesterol and Strokes.
The progression of Vascular Dementia is describes as stepped, meaning that symptoms remain at a constant level and then suddenly deteriorate.
Dementia with Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy Bodies is a type of dementia which involves tiny abnormal structures (Lewy Bodies) forming inside brain cells, which disrupts the chemistry of the brain and causes brain cells to die.
Dementia with Lewy Bodies is closely related to Parkinson’s disease and often has some of the same symptoms, including difficulties with movement.
Frontotemporal Dementia is one of the less common forms of dementia. Here the front and side parts of the Brain are damaged. Abnormal proteins form inside of Brain Cells, causing them to die. Symptoms include changes in the way people would normally respond to situations and difficulties with language. Frontotemporal Dementia also has an impact on social skills, which can often be mistaken as “challenging behaviour”.
People with dementia may experience problems with their sight, causing them to misinterpret the world around them.
Visual perception difficulties can also lead to problems with moving around. This can make a person fearful of falling and cause them to slow down their movement.
Specific difficulties that people may have with dementia can include things like misjudging distances, stepping highly over carpet rods and shadows because the change in colour looks like a change in level. Think of an entrance to a supermarket with the big black carpet in the entrance, this can look like a big black hole to someone with dementia that they could fall down. They would also avoid walking on shiny floors as they can look wet or slippery.
How can we help?
Taylor Bracewell are taking part in the Alzheimer’s Society “Will to Remember” scheme in order to try to raise awareness and support the charity and people living with dementia.
The Will to Remember scheme provides you with a voucher worth £150 towards the cost of drafting your Will.
If you do not have a Will, there is no guarantee that your wishes will be fulfilled. The Will to Remember scheme offers the opportunity to seek advice and guidance from Solicitors that you can trust.
If you would like more information, or to request your free Will voucher go to https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-involved/make-donation/leave-gift-your-will/willtoremember