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Dementia is a term used to describe a progressive deterioration that usually begins with memory problems, but gradually robs the sufferer of their ability to function. Vascular dementia, which affects blood circulation to the brain, accounts for 20% of cases, but 60% of sufferers develop Alzheimer's disease, which cause the death of brain cells. The other 20% of cases occur in people with other serious medical conditions, such as HIV. One in every 1,000 of us develops dementia between the ages of 40 and 65, but this rises to one in five over the age of 80.
Some of the first signs of dementia include lapses in memory and problems with finding the right words. Other symptoms that might develop include:
Dementia affects everyone differently. Your symptoms may stay the same for some time or if you have vascular dementia, they may occur as a series of episodes with a succession of 'stepwise' deteriorations and occasionally some improvement after a period of getting worse.
People who have dementia can often have good quality of life for a number of years. However, the symptoms generally get progressively more severe with time. As your dementia worsens, you may find it increasingly difficult to look after yourself. It's important to get support from social services, your GP, family and friends.
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