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Dementia describes a range of symptoms of cognitive decline. For example memory loss, problems with reasoning and communication skills, and a reduction in a person's abilities and skills in carrying out daily activities.
There are about 820,000 people in the UK with dementia. Men and women are both affected, and ones risk of Dementia increases with age.
There are several different types of Dementia; Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, Fronto temporal dementia, Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Dementia with Lewy bodies.
Different diseases that cause dementia have different early symptoms and many overlap. Alzheimer’s is probably the best-known cause of dementia, accounting for about two-thirds of cases in the elderly. After Alzheimer’s, the most common causes of dementia are vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia. It is possible to have more than one of these diseases that cause dementia at the same time. Alzheimer’s is commonly seen with vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. You might hear this called ‘mixed dementia’. Rarer causes of dementia include Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), HIV/AIDS and alcohol related dementia. Severe depression, thyroid deficiencies and vitamin deficiencies can produce similar symptoms to dementia.
As of 2010, there were an estimated 35.6 million people with dementia worldwide. This number will nearly double every 20 years, to an estimated 65.7 million in 2030, and 115.4 million in 2050. Much of the increase will be in developing countries. Already 58% of people with dementia live in developing countries, but by 2050 this will rise to 71%. The fastest growth in the elderly population is taking place in China, India, and their south Asian and western Pacific neighbours.
Demographic ageing is a worldwide process that shows the successes of improved health care over the last century. Many are now living longer and healthier lives and so the world population has a greater proportion of older people. Dementia mainly affects older people, although there is a growing awareness of cases that start before the age of 65. By 2050, people aged 60 and over will account for 22% of the world's population, with four-fifths living in Asia, Latin America or Africa.
Alzheimer's Research UK - http://www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/
Alzheimer's Disease International - http://www.alz.co.uk/