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.
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
Further information about types of dementia from the Alzheimer's Society.
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
• 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.
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.
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, 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 and support
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 or M&S.
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:
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.
You could also 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.