Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of progressive disorders affecting the brain.
There are over 200 types of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common. Each type of dementia stops a person’s brain cells working in specific areas, affecting their ability to remember, think and speak.
Doctors typically use the word ‘dementia’ to describe a set of common symptoms that get worse over time, particularly:
difficulty retaining new information
getting lost in places that used to be familiar
struggling with names
misplacing things frequently
difficulty understanding time and place, eg getting up in the middle of the night to go to work, even if they’re retired
difficulty with choosing what to buy and paying when shopping
struggling with decision-making and reasoning
loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
restlessness, eg pacing, fidgeting and trying to leave the house
struggling to find the right words
repeating themselves often
difficulty making and following conversation
difficulty reading and writing
becoming quieter and more withdrawn
loss of interest in socialising
loss of confidence
changes in personality and behaviour
mood swings, anxiety and depression
Although dementia has a common set of symptoms, each type presents itself differently, and people may have some or all of the symptoms. They may also have more than one type of dementia (‘mixed dementia’), with symptoms of each.
Here, you can find out about the main symptoms of the most common types of dementia. Be aware that everyone has their own experience of dementia, and the symptoms may vary between people.
If you are concerned about your own memory, or you are worried about changes you have noticed with the memory, personality or behaviour of someone close to you, it is important to consult a GP as soon as possible