Common Misconceptions About Dementia and What You Need To Know

Five things you should know about dementia

Dementia is not a natural part of getting older and it’s not just about forgetting things. Find out the five things that you should be aware of.

1. Dementia is not just about memory loss

Memory problems are a common early sign of dementia, but not for everyone.

A person with early-stage dementia might ask for the same information repeatedly or forget something they were recently told. But dementia can also affect the way people think, speak, perceive things, feel and behave.

Common symptoms of dementia include:

  • confusion and needing help with daily tasks – such as shopping or paying bills 
  • problems with language and understanding – including often being unable to find the right word, or having trouble following a conversation. 
  • changes in behaviour – such as becoming unusually anxious or irritable. 

The changes may be small to start with, but become more noticeable. For example, they can begin to cause problems with familiar tasks such as using a phone or using public transport.

Find out more about memory loss and dementia.

2. Dementia is not a normal part of ageing

We all forget a name or a face sometimes, especially as we get older. But the changes caused by dementia are different and more serious.

Symptoms of dementia can include problems with planning and decision-making, language, and sometimes changes in mood or behaviour. 

These changes in mental abilities may be small to start with, but become more noticeable. It’s important to know the difference between normal ageing and dementia.

Dementia doesn’t just affect older people. Over 42,000 people under 65 in the UK have dementia. This is called young-onset dementia.

3. Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain

Dementia is a group of symptoms. It’s caused by different diseases that damage the brain and stop it from working properly.

Different types of dementia damage different parts of the brain.

Types of diseases that cause dementia include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease (the most common type of dementia)
  • vascular dementia (the second most common type)
  • dementia with Lewy bodies
  • frontotemporal dementia (including Pick’s disease).

Find out more about types of dementia. 

4. People can still live well with dementia

Although there is no cure for dementia yet, scientists and researchers are working hard to find one.

Support and treatments are available to allow people with dementia to lead active lives and carry on doing the things that matter to them most.

There are medicines for some types of dementia that can ease symptoms for a while, or slow down their progression, in some people.

Other non-drug approaches that can help with symptoms of dementia include:

  • cognitive stimulation, which might involve doing word puzzles or discussing current affairs
  • life story work, sharing memories and experiences with a carer or nurse to create a ‘life story book’
  • keeping as active as possible – physically, mentally and socially – which can boost memory and self esteem, and help avoid depression.