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We all tend to get more forgetful as we get older. But dementia is different.

It is a brain disease which often starts with memory problems, but goes on to affect many other parts of the brain, producing:

  • difficulty coping with day to day tasks
  • difficulty communicating
  • changes in mood, judgement or personality.

It usually gets worse over time. With dementia you tend to have to rely on other people more and more as the illness progresses.  It is much more common in older people, but can start as early as 40. 

About 1 in every 20 over-65s have dementia and by the age of 80 about 1 in 5 will have some degree of dementia. 

Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause, but there are also other forms, such as vascular dementia, lewy body dementia and fronto-temporal dementia.

If you are worried about your memory, see your doctor.  He or she can do a simple memory test, a physical examination and order blood tests.  They can then refer to you a specialist who will test your memory in more detail and arrange a brain scan if needed.

This information is supplied by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. You can learn more here.