Around 60% of people with dementia have Alzheimer’s which is characterised by abnormal deposits of protein in the brain causing brain cells to die.
Vascular Dementia is the second most common cause, accounting for up to 20% of cases and a further 10% have a mix of Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia. Vascular Dementia is caused by blood supply problems in the brain which leads to small vessel disease and/or mini strokes.
Other types of dementia include Dementia with Lewy Bodies, Fronto-temporal Dementia, Posterior Cortical Atrophy, Primary Progressive Aphasia. There are many other dementias – more than 100 different types.
Dementia mostly affects older people. Age is the biggest risk factor. 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 has dementia. However younger people can develop dementia too. In the UK, there are more than 42,000 people under the age of 65 years with dementia.
Dementia in younger people is often difficult to detect because dementia can mimic other conditions and people with early symptoms are investigated for other conditions first, for example, depression, menopause- related issues, bereavement. A significant number of younger people with dementia have more unusual dementias, which also makes assessment and diagnosis a lengthier process.
A diagnosis of dementia is life-changing at any age. Because younger people are at an earlier life-stage, the impact will be different. Younger people, in their 40s or 50s, may have young families or teenagers still living at home. They are likely to still be working and risk losing their employment and income. Their spouse or partner, who usually (with young onset cases) becomes primary carer, might also be in work. Combining caring with employment will be stressful and many carers are forced to make difficult choices. As a couple, they may have made plans for their future that cannot be fulfilled, and formative milestones for teenage and adult children – for example, graduations, weddings, birth of grandchildren – are ‘bitter-sweet’ if a parent has dementia and cannot take part or fully engage with the occasion.
Dementia causes many problems for older people too. Older people are likely to have other health problems that co-exist with dementia. They may be physically frail and/or have conditions that become more difficult to manage with the overlay of dementia. Spouse-carers might also have health issues that are exacerbated by the demands of caring. A high proportion of older people with dementia live alone, increasing the risk of loneliness and isolation and presenting safety concerns as a person’s dementia worsens.
- Dementia isn’t a normal part of ageing. The risk of developing dementia is greater for older people, but it is not inevitable. The majority of older people do not have dementia. Less than 20% of people over the age of 80 are living with dementia.
- Dementia does affect younger people as well as older people. People as young as 30 can develop dementia, although this is very rare.
- Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of diseases of the brain.
- Dementia symptoms vary. Each person diagnosed with dementia will have a different experience and a unique expression of cognitive difficulties.
If you are living with dementia or are caring for a ‘loved one’ with dementia, you are not alone. Lifted has a dementia hub on its website and we have a world-wide dementia community on Facebook, which you would be welcome to join.
We also have Barbara, our Dementia Adviser. Barbara can help by answering your questions by email. Plus, she is available each Friday morning from 10.30am until 11.30am on zoom for a virtual coffee morning. This brings carers together and encourages peer support.
For more information, visit the dementia-hub on our website or email Barbara at email@example.com