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How to live well with a health condition or disability

Dementia - symptoms and diagnosis

 

The term 'dementia' describes a set of symptoms including memory loss, mood changes, and problems with communications and reasoning. It is caused by diseases of the brain, the most common being Alzheimer’s. Although dementia is more common in people over the age of 65, it can also affect younger people.

On these pages, you will find a range of information, advice and resources to help you understand more about dementia and the practical things that people living with dementia can do to live well and retain their independence for as long as possible. You will also find information for family and friends who are caring for someone with dementia, to help them maintain their own health and wellbeing.

Symptoms of dementia

The Alzheimer’s Society has developed a simple explanation of what dementia is, its causes and symptoms. It also describes some of the different types of dementia.

On the Alzheimer's Research UK website you can also tour the brain and discover what different areas of the brain do and how they can be affected by dementia.

More information about the possible symptoms of each type of dementia can also be found on the NHS website.

Benefits of early diagnosis

A timely diagnosis and prompt follow-up support helps people with dementia and their families to take control of their lives and manage their condition well. Benefits include:

  • opening the door to future care and treatment;
  • helping people to plan ahead and make important decisions on their care and support needs and arrange financial and legal matters; and
  • enabling people with dementia and their families to receive practical information, advice and guidance.

Getting a diagnosis

Contact your GP to talk about your symptoms. It might be helpful to ask someone to support you through this process. 

If you are concerned that someone you know may have dementia and are unsure how to help them, you can find useful information by visiting the NHS website.

Dementia Assessment Service

The Dementia Assessment Service provides early assessment, diagnosis and treatment for people suspected of developing a dementia. It also offers support to family and friend carers following diagnosis.  The service includes doctors, nurses, psychologists and occupational therapists.  It works in partnership with dementia advisers.

Referral to the service is primarily through your GP but can also be made through health professionals in community teams, hospital consultants and learning disability services.

Currently, to protect you and NHS staff and prevent the spread of coronavirus, initial appointments may be online or by phone.

Dementia Advisers - supporting you after diagnosis

Following your diagnosis, you will be contacted by a Dementia Adviser from the Alzheimer’s Society who will offer support to you and your family and friend carers.

The adviser will give you information and advice and signpost you to other support, including information sessions such as Understanding Dementia, Living Well with Dementia and the Carers Information and Support Programme (CrISP).

Dementia Guide

The Dementia Guide is an essential resource for anyone who has recently been told they have dementia. Produced by the Alzheimer's Society, it explains the treatments, support and services that are available.

The Guide is available in different languages as well as a video version in British Sign Language.

Last updated: 12 November 2020