A devastating and incurable condition
By Neil Hunt
*Reports of Baroness Thatcher's dementia have shone a light on a condition that is under-recognised and underfunded in the UK. One in three of people who live to be 65 will die with dementia, and yet there is still no cure for this devastating condition that robs people of their lives. Dementia is more than just forgetfulness. Symptoms of dementia can also include confusion, mood changes and problems with speech and understanding.
These symptoms vary from case to case, and everyone is affected in different ways. It is caused by diseases of the brain. There are a number of different conditions which lead to dementia, including Alzheimer's disease and vascular disease.
The biggest risk factor is age, but it can strike at any time of life. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, so it is important to eat a healthy diet, take regular exercise and not smoke. There are 700,000 people with dementia in the UK and the number will rise to over a million in less than 20 years. Dealing with the symptoms can be challenging and dementia has a huge impact on families.
Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society