For millions of people, living with dementia is not an abstract concept that only happens to other people. Dementia is a growing problem across the UK.
We are all living longer than in previous generations and, for many people, this brings added challenges as we or our loved ones reach old age. Most of us will know someone who is already suffering from the condition.
Although dementia is associated with ageing — affecting around 1 in 6 people over 80, a large number of younger people of working age are also living with dementia. Current figures estimate that more than 64,000 people in the UK have 'young-onset' dementia before the age of 65.
Dementia is not an illness. The condition can be caused by a whole range of neurological disorders and is a general-purpose term to describe the symptoms that come with certain diseases.
The most common of these is Alzheimer’s disease — a disease that causes microscopic changes to the millions of brain cells eventually causing them to die off leaving lasting and irreversible brain damage. This does not happen overnight. In most cases onset is slow with many people living with dementia for years as the disease progresses and worsens.
Neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease can also lead to dementia as do some types of multiple sclerosis symptoms, head injuries and alcohol abuse.
Some types of dementia can be treated if identified early enough. Existing brain damage cannot be reversed, but in some cases progress can be halted or delayed by treatment.
More research is needed. There is presently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but with advances in neurosurgery, perhaps one day scientists will understand about this most common of neurological disorders.
However, the figures are frightening. A conservative estimate is that one million of us will be suffering from, and living with, dementia by 2025. Unless we can manage to work together to find a cure, it makes for a scary future for us all.
Help us to find that cure by supporting The National Brain Appeal.
For more information, please contact:
The National Brain Appeal
Tel: 020 3448 4724
Email: [email protected]