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Dementia affects 50 million people around the world — a figure that will triple in the next 30 years.

Dementia is a broad term including a range of related diseases, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s.

People with dementia tend to have problems with thinking, reasoning and making decisions.

Dementia tends to affect older people but is not a normal part of aging.

Signs of dementia

Some of the most frequent early symptoms of Alzheimer’s are short-term memory loss, personality change, getting lost in familiar places and problems finding words.

Other signs of dementia include:

  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Problems with reasoning
  • Difficulties with familiar everyday tasks

Later on it can lead to mood swings, confusion, long-term memory loss and a withdrawal from friends and family.

Types of dementia

These are the main types of dementia, starting with the most common.

  • Alzheimer’s Disease: the most common form, 70 percent of dementia cases are Alzheimer’s.
  • Vascular Dementia: makes up 10 percent of dementia cases.
  • Lewy Body Dementia
  • Frontotemporal Dementia: mainly affects the brain’s frontal regions.
  • Mixed Dementia: often older people have a combination of two or more types.

Causes of dementia

The causes of dementia depend on its type.

The cause of Alzheimer’s is thought to be an abnormal build-up of proteins in the brain.

Other than increasing age, though, scientists are not sure exactly why this happens.

Vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain.

How to avoid dementia

Around one-third of dementia cases are thought to be avoidable.

Some of the main risk factors are:

One of the main protective factors against dementia is exercise.

Dementia treatments

There is no really effective treatment for most dementias.

Some drugs, though, can help to control behaviour and reduce symptoms.

Psychotherapy can help people cope with the disease.

Care homes are a common choice when the symptoms become too severe and home living is no longer possible.

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