Health A-Z: Alzheimer’s and dementia
In dementia, brain cells are damaged and die faster than they would normally. It’s caused by disease and is not a normal part of growing old, although it usually occurs in people aged over 65.
Brain function declines and gradually you lose the ability to do things. You may forget recent events and, over time, get confused about things like where you are or who other people are. You may become irritable and behave out of character. In the later stages of dementia, you may need help with washing, dressing and eating.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. It’s estimated that one million of us will have it by 2021. Alzheimer’s is caused by a loss of brain cells. The most common early symptom is short-term memory loss. Vascular dementia, the next most common type, is caused by poor circulation of blood to the brain. Speed of thinking and concentration may be affected early on.