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Dementia expert Bernadette Mossman said: “There are over 200 subtypes of dementia that we’re currently aware of.” The most common include Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia and mixed dementia. Mossman explained: “Although there are different diseases which can cause dementia, generally the development of symptoms is due to the abnormal build-up of proteins in the brain.”
She explained: “[The abnormal build-up of proteins in the brain] causes nerve cells to function less efficiently and eventually die.
“As the nerve cells die, different areas of the brain shrink, leading to the brain functioning in a different way.”
There are five key signs that “you should be aware of”, Mossman stated, which are:
- Finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks
- Struggling to follow a conversation
- Being confused about time and place
- Memory loss
- Mood changes.
While some of these symptoms on their own “may not seem significant”, and could indicate mild cognitive impairment, they could be a precursor to dementia.
“It’s therefore crucial that these symptoms are taken seriously,” said Mossman.
She advised anybody experiencing such symptoms to “book an appointment with a GP”.
The doctor can “investigate [the symptoms] further and confirm if it’s likely [it] could develop into dementia”.
Mossman added: “We must remember that regardless of the type of dementia diagnosed and the part of the brain affected, everyone will experience dementia in their own unique way.
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“It can therefore be tricky to spot the signs and symptoms early on as they can vary from person to person.”
As the Healthcare Director at Vida Healthcare, Mossman said: “There is a multitude of ways that we can support people living with dementia.
“And the earlier that someone is diagnosed, the quicker the right care and support can be delivered to them.”
Mossman stated: “Diagnosis also supports research into the causes of dementia and the development of new treatments.
“The more people that are diagnosed, and the earlier it’s caught, the better we’ll understand this collection of symptoms and how to treat them.”
Dementia UK, a leading charity, highlighted three stages of dementia development.
In the beginning stage of the progressive disease, the symptoms of dementia will beign to affect their day-to-day life.
Short-term memory and recall of recent events may be affected, but earlier memories “may remain very clear”.
In the middle stages of dementia, the signs of dementia become more obvious.
Forgetfulness becomes more apparent and it is difficult to retain new information, which can lead to difficulties with planning, problem-solving and making decisions.
By the latest stage of dementia, the person might not recognise their own family.
Bernadette Mossman is the Healthcare Director at the UK’s leading provider of specialist dementia care Vida Healthcare.
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