About Dementia

Understanding is bound by trust & respect

Dementia is…

    • The general term used to describe a wide range of symptoms that occur when brain cells stop working properly. The main symptom of dementia is memory loss but there are many other symptoms too, including communication and language problems and changes in personality.


    • A progressive condition which means it gets worse in time though it usually progresses quite slowly – over years – rather than months depending on which form of dementia you have been diagnosed with and what caused it.


  • Diagnosed via various tests which can be carried out by a doctor or dementia specialist working in a memory clinic or hospital. Although there is no cure for dementia – yet – there are many ways to help slow down the progress of the condition including drug treatments, natural and psychological therapies and creative activities which can provide lots of enjoyment and stimulation.

Dementia is NOT…

    • A normal part of ageing – occasional lapses in memory might be part of the ageing process but dementia is more serious than this. It is a condition which damages the brain.


    • The same as Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, but it isn’t the only one. In fact, there are around 200 different types of dementia including vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia (sometimes called Pick’s disease), or a combination of more than one form called ‘mixed dementia’.


    • A condition which only affects old people – younger people can get dementia too (although it is quite rare). When someone under 65 is diagnosed with a form of dementia it’s called early on-set or young on-set which can sometimes be hereditary.


  • A mental illness – dementia is caused by damage to the brain, the damage can often be seen on brain scans, so it isn’t ‘in the mind.’ However, a diagnosis of dementia can also cause depression which, in turn, can lead to further memory problems.

10 Symptoms of Dementia

There are some very distinct early symptoms of dementia.
These are the signs you should look out for:
  1. Memory loss that is affecting everyday life
  2. Losing conversation threads
  3. Forgetting the names of everyday objects
  4. Misplacing items or putting them back in the wrong place
  5. Difficulty judging distances or colours
  6. Confusion about time, place, or route home.
  7. Problem solving and planning difficulties
  8. Lack of judgement
  9. Mood changes
  10. Becoming less sociable

The three stages of dementia


You will often hear the dementia journey as a series of three stages based on symptoms.

Early Stage

When mild and minor changes in memory or behaviour start to happen. Forgetting recent events, repeating yourself or mislaying things regularly are all common signs of this stage. They can be so subtle that many people mistake these changes for normal ageing.

Middle Stage

When mild and minor changes in memory or behaviour start to happen. Forgetting recent events, repeating yourself or mislaying things regularly are all common signs of this stage. They can be so subtle that many people mistake these changes for normal ageing.

Late Stage

When memory loss is pronounced, and they become increasingly frail. Your loved one may need help with eating, bathing and gradually become very dependent on others.

Whilst the stages theory can be a useful and a straight forward guide it is best not to get too bogged down in wondering which stage the person your caring for might be at or worrying when the next stage is likely to occur.

Remember the stages theory is based on symptoms only and doesn’t take into account:

Personal Circumstances

Some symptoms of dementia can become much more pronounced if the person is living on their own. For example, they might only be in the early stages but be experiencing serious difficulties in day to day life, which could make it seem as if they are in the middle stage.

Good Days & Bad Days

This is one of the most common characteristics of the dementia journey and one which can cause much surprise. For example, many carers days when they wonder how on earth their loved one will be able to spend another day living on their own…only to find that the next day they are far more alert and yesterdays ‘crisis’  seems to have passed.


Emotional resilience, strength, determination, and intelligence can play a big part in the dementia journey, sometimes even disguising how far the condition has progressed. For example, you may assume your loved one is still in the early stages of their journey however when in fact the damage is more severe – they are just doing a very good job of hiding it.

The personal journey theory

As our understanding and awareness of dementia increases, another theory about how dementia progresses have begun to emerge, which focuses on ‘the journey’ itself rather than they symptoms that may or may not occur. This theory emphasises the uniqueness of each journey and advocates a person-centred approach identifying key themes, milestones, and challenges along the way, rather than a chronological series of symptoms.

There are four basic strands to the ‘personal journey’ theory. These are:

    1. The system journey – this is the health and medical part of the journey, it includes where people live, how they learn to navigate the system and milestone events such as being diagnosed, giving up driving, or deciding whether to move house or into a care home.
    2. Relationships and community – this is about the part played by friends and family on the dementia journey, it includes events such as telling other people about the diagnosis, how relationships might change and new friendships may emerge.
    3. Changing and adapting – this focuses on how a person with dementia might come to terms with their new reality, make adjustments and begin to live ‘in the moment’ rather than dwelling too much on the future.
    4. Focusing on me – this look at what the person with dementia (and their loved ones) might do to stay well physically, psychologically, and emotionally. It includes how they may cope with stress and go about finding a new purpose and meaning in life.

Although this theory conveys a very thorough and realistic picture of the dementia journey – and one which most people find they can relate to – it is quite complex to navigate, and since symptoms aren’t the focus (there hardly mentioned at all) it can be difficult to work out – where you or your loved one might be right now – and where you might be headed.

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If you or a loved one would like to know more about dementia advice or support, please don't hesitate to contact us. You don't have to travel this journey alone.