About dementia

Dementia is not a specific disease. It's a term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills. It is called dementia if the decline is severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities.

Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common dementia type. There are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia. Some of these are reversible, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies.

Dementia affects around 850,000 people in the UK. It usually occurs in people aged over 65, but it’s not a natural part of ageing. Dementia need not stop you living a full and fulfilling life. Many people with dementia continue to work, have hobbies and socialise.

Further information about types of dementia from the Alzheimer's Society.

Dementia symptoms

Dementia is often associated with memory loss but different types of dementia can have a variety of symptoms. These are some of the possible symptoms of dementia:

• Memory loss
Difficulty with tasks that need organisation and planning
• Becoming confused about place or time, particularly in unfamiliar environments
• Difficulty finding the right words or following conversations
• Changes in personality and mood
• Difficulty judging distance or seeing objects differently to how they are
• Hallucinations and delusions
• Muscle wasting, changes to balance and posture or difficulty in physical movement

You can find more information about the symptoms of each type of dementia on the NHS Choices website.

The Alzheimer's Research UK website has a helpful visual diagram that allows you to tour the brain. You can find out how dementia can affect different areas of the brain.

If you are worried about memory loss

It is important to know that there are many reasons for memory loss apart from dementia. Many of us become more forgetful as we get older and need a bit longer to remember things.  For most people, these changes will be the result of normal ageing and won't be down to dementia. Stress, tiredness, illness and some medication can also affect your memory.

If you are concerned about memory loss, you should visit your GP.  Dementia is a progressive disease; the symptoms get worse over time. It is important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. You may be able to get treatment to slow down the progress of the disease. This will also allow you more time to plan for the future and to access support to help you live well with the condition. 

Your GP may want to refer you on for further tests. This referral could be to a community mental health team made up of a number of different specialists.  They may carry out a scan or more in-depth memory tests. If you are diagnosed with dementia, they will be able to plan your care with you. This could include medication, memory courses and signposting to other services. Your GP will also be informed about your assessment and will then carry out a yearly review with you.

If you are worried that someone you know may have dementia, NHS Choices and the Alzheimer’s Society have tips for starting a conversation with them about your concerns.

There may be equipment (particularly care technology such as GPS trackers and memory aids) which may help you with memory loss. See our Equipment / Care Technology page.

If you have been diagnosed with dementia

If you, or a friend or relative, have recently been diagnosed with dementia, you may be feeling scared, anxious or sad. There is currently no "cure" for dementia but there are several drugs that could help 

It is important to know that many people who have the condition lead active, fulfilling lives.

Advice, support and resources

  • See our Community Directory listings for local and national support available for people living with dementia. 

  • The Hampshire Dementia Advice Service is available to residents living in the Hampshire County Council area who have received a diagnosis of dementia. The service focuses on wellbeing rather than illness and offers support and advice.

  • The Living With Dementia Toolkitis a set of resources. It is based on research and the expert experiences of people with dementia and their carers.

  • Dementia Support - Hampshire & IOW provides free emotional support, information and signposting to anyone and everyone living with dementia in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Helpline: 0344 324 6589 (Monday to Friday, 8am-6pm)

  • Hampshire Libraries have a range of resources to borrow which can help people living with dementia.

  • If you have been diagnosed with dementia, and live in the PO1 to PO6 area or have a GP within PO1 to PO6, the Remind dementia service can help you.

  • The Alzheimer’s Society offers a telephone support line - 0333 150 3456. They also have an online discussion forum, Talking Point, for anyone affected by dementia.

  • "This is me" is a simple leaflet which you can download. It is for anyone receiving professional care who is living with dementia or experiencing other communication difficulties. It can be used to record details about a person who can't easily share information about themselves.

  • There may be care technology which can help you.

  • 'My Home Helper' has been developed to help people who care for someone living with memory issues. It is simple to use tablet computer doesn't need any interaction from the person living with dementia or memory issues.  

  • My House of Memories app is an easy to use app designed for, and with, people living with dementia and their families and carers. It allow you to explore objects from the past and share memories together.

  • The Iridis app, developed by the University of Stirling, can make simple suggestions about adaptations to your environment which can improve the quality of life for people living with dementia. It is available on the Google Play and Apple iTunes store.

  • For those unable to access information online, you can get a free 'Hampshire Dementia Guide' by calling 01223 207770.

Council tax and dementia

Some people affected by dementia are eligible for a discount on their council tax bill. 

Sunflower lanyard - assistance for people with hidden disabilities

A sunflower lanyard was introduced at major UK airports in 2018 in order to allow passengers with hidden disabilities to indicate discreetly to staff that they may need additional support or help. The use of the lanyard has now spread and is now available from a number of transport providers. You can pick up a free lanyard at Tesco.


Researchers at Loughborough University have produced a series of short 'Dementia Persona' videos to help people living with dementia and families to identify the level of care required at different stages of dementia:

The Ideal Project have made a film  about a theatre production, The World Turned Upside Down, that takes a realistic look at dementia: what it can be like to live with dementia or care for a person with dementia.

Volunteering in the community to support people living with dementia

Anyone who is keen to make a positive difference to the lives of people living with dementia can get involved with the work of Dementia Friendly Hampshire. Dementia Support Hampshire & IOW also have volunteering opportunities available.

You could learn more about dementia and become a Dementia Friend. Dementia Friends help people living with dementia by taking actions - both big and small. These actions don’t have to be time-consuming. From visiting someone you know with dementia to being more patient in a shop queue, every action counts. Dementia Friends can also get involved with things like volunteering, campaigning or wearing a badge to raise awareness.