Monthly Health Tips with Dr Phil Dyer

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This month Dr Dyer gives advice on Dementia

There are over 500,000 people living with Dementia in England and this figure is expected to double over the next 30 years. Dementia causes the gradual loss of mental abilities such as thinking, remembering and reasoning.

Dementia becomes more common the older you get. Approximately 1 in 20 people over the age of 65 will develop some degree of Dementia, and this increases to 1 in 6 for those over the age of 85. Dementia can also develop in younger people but this is less common only affecting 1 in every 1,400 people under the age of 65.

Dementia develops when cells in the brain that control mental ability become damaged. The damage can be caused by several things including diseases and infections such as Alzheimer’s or meningitis, pressure on the brain or a lack of blood and oxygen supply to the brain. The most common type of Dementia is that caused by Alzheimer’s disease, which is responsible for about 60% of all cases.

Symptoms of Dementia develop gradually in most cases, and for some over several years. Symptoms can vary but people suffering from Dementia will often have one or more of the following; memory loss, speech and language impediment, confusion, changes in mood or behaviour and difficulty performing simple tasks.

Other conditions, such as depression, have similar symptoms to Dementia so it is important not to assume someone has Dementia if they have one of the symptoms described.

Although there is no cure for most types of Dementia, drugs such as cholinesterase inhibitors can be prescribed to help control the symptoms. These types of drugs can enable the person to live independently in the community. Those forms of Dementia related to vitamin/hormone deficiencies, head injuries, medication or infections can be cured through treatment or surgery.

Although there is no known way to prevent Dementia you can reduce your risk by maintaining a healthy lifestyle including not smoking, eating a low-fat balanced diet, doing regular exercise and drinking no more than the recommended amount of alcohol.

For further information on Dementia or other related illnesses, visit NHS Direct at www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk.

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