Dementia is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, behaviour and ability to perform everyday tasks. It comes in many forms, greatly impacting individuals and their loved ones.
September is Dementia Awareness Month, an initiative of Alzheimer’s Australia.
The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘You are not alone’. It encourages Australians to become aware of issues surrounding dementia, have a better understanding of what it is like for a person to live with dementia and create more supportive communities for people with dementia.
According to Alzheimer’s Australia, more than 353,800 Australians are living with dementia. An estimated 1.2 million people are caring for a person with dementia including partners, carers, family members and friends.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. It is not one specific disease. Brain function is affected enough to interfere with the person’s normal social or working life. Functions that may be affected can include memory, language skills, understanding information, spatial skills, judgement and attention. They may also experience problems controlling their emotions and personality changes. Dementia is usually a progressive disease with symptoms worsening over time.
Who gets Dementia?
Dementia can happen to anyone, but the risk increases with age. Dementia is not a normal part of ageing, but caused by brain disease. Certain health and lifestyle factors appear to play a role in a person’s risk of dementia.
What causes Dementia?
There are many diseases that cause Dementia and in most cases why people develop these diseases is unknown.
Early signs of Dementia
The early signs can be very subtle, vague and may not be immediately obvious. Some common symptoms may include: progressive and frequent memory loss, confusion, personality change, apathy and withdrawal, loss of ability to perform everyday tasks.
At present there is no cure for most forms of Dementia. Some medications may help reduce some symptoms. Support is vital for people with Dementia and the help of families, friends and carers can make a positive difference to managing the condition.
5 Simple Steps to Maximise Your Brain Health is an important component of Alzheimer’s Australia’s dementia risk reduction program, Your Brain Matters, and emphasises how preventive health measures can benefit your brain health.
It shows you how to look after your brain health and has been developed by Alzheimer’s Australia based on published research evidence.
Being brain healthy is particularly important once you reach middle age as this is when changes start to occur in the brain.
Dementia cannot yet be prevented or cured but evidence does show that people can reduce their risk for dementia and other chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer by adopting healthy lifestyles.
It is never too late to switch to a healthier lifestyle. Much of what you need to do to enjoy good brain health are simple things that you can easily do in your everyday life to lower your risk of dementia.