It is vital that all those who support people with dementia, including nurses, have an understanding of dementia and the impact this condition has on the individual themselves and their families.
In this section of the resource dementia and its impact is considered under the following headings:
- what is dementia
- why is it important to know about dementia?
- human rights
- finding out more about dementia.
Dementia is a term that is used to describe a collection of symptoms including memory loss, problems with reasoning, perception and communication skills. It also leads to a reduction in a person's abilities and skills in carrying out routine activities such as washing, dressing and cooking.
The most common types of dementia are: Alzheimer's disease, Vascular dementia, Fronto-temporal dementia and Dementia with Lewy bodies. Information is available in a section of the Alzheimer's Society website on types of dementia.
Dementia is a progressive condition, which means the symptoms are likely to get worse over time. The progression will vary from person to person and each will experience dementia in a different way.
For further information see the Open Dementia e-Learning Programme.
The number of people with dementia is increasing and presents a significant and urgent challenge to health and social care, both in terms of the number of people affected and the associated cost.
- There are approximately 800,000 people with dementia and approximately one in six people over the age of 80 have a form of dementia.
- The number of people with dementia is expected to double within 30 years.
- Whilst dementia is predominantly a condition of later life, there are at least 17,000 people under the age of 65 in the UK who have the illness.
For further statistical information see Dementia statistics.
Dementia has particular implications for family members or friends who are providing care and are directly affected by the changes that dementia can bring about. However it is important to be aware that with the right help people with dementia can be supported to have a good quality of life and experience a sense of well-being. For further information see supporting people with dementia and supporting carers.
People with dementia and their carers (family members and friends) have the same human rights as every other citizen. However, it is widely recognised that, in addition to the impact of the illness, they face cultural, social and economic barriers to fulfilling these. This includes the right to a proper diagnosis, access to information and support from a range of informed, skilled professionals who are able to provide individualized care.
See the National Dementia Declaration and the Scottish Charter of Rights which are aimed at protecting the human rights and ensuring equal access to care for people with dementia and their family carers.
You can find further information at:
Alzheimer’s Society: About dementia
This section of the Alzheimer’s Society website provides information on the different types of dementia and introduces resources available on the website to support further understanding.
Alzheimer's Society: Factsheets
The factsheets cover a wide range of topics and are organised under headings such as: causes of dementia, progression and drug treatment; emotional and practical support; legal and financial information.
Alzheimer's Society (2012) Dementia 2012: a national challenge
The report, which presents new evidence from a survey and draws on existing research and current work, explores how well people are living with dementia in 2012 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland against seven outcomes identified by people with dementia and their carers as being important to them. The report highlights the achievements since the publication of the national strategy but shows that quality of life remains extremely varied. The Society calls for “a major shift in societal awareness and understanding about dementia, and a move towards the development of dementia friendly communities”.
NHS Choices – Dementia
This website provides information on dementia covering: symptoms; causes; diagnosis; treatment; prevention and living with dementia.
NHS Choices (2011) Special report: Alzheimer’s in the news - fear and fascination
This report looks back at news stories on dementia and Alzheimer’s covered by the ‘Behind the headlines’ initiative which started in 2007 and identifies some of the most important stories and examines "those that were wide of the mark”. The report looks at the media coverage of research studies and how accurately studies have been reported. It also aims to help readers judge future news reports for themselves.
SCIE Dementia Gateway: About dementia
This section of the dementia gateway brings together information and resources about the symptoms and causes of dementia and different types of dementia. It includes modules on early stage and later stage dementia.
Welsh Assembly Government (2007) Dementia. How to reduce your risk
This patient information leaflet provides advice on how to reduce the risk of getting dementia.
WHO and Alzheimer's Disease International (2012) Dementia: a public health priority
This report aims to raise awareness of dementia as a public health priority; to articulate a public health approach; and to advocate for action at international and national levels.
See also Learning resources.