Every year there is a focus on raising awareness of dementia to encourage people across the UK to 'act on Dementia'. This year, Dementia Action Week (13-19 May) focuses on bringing the UK together to improve dementia diagnosis rates. 

Dementia affects millions of individuals and their families worldwide. It is a progressive condition that impacts memory, thinking, behaviour, and the ability to perform everyday tasks. The activities that we do every day, such as talking with a friend, going out for a coffee, cooking a meal, choosing what to wear, walking the dog, cutting the grass, or planning a trip, all identify us, give us purpose and structure, and support our individuality. The functional abilities needed to participate in these activities are often taken for granted until they are impaired by dementia. Those affected by dementia can find even the simplest tasks challenging.

There are more than 100 known types of dementia. The most common are Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Various factors increase the risk of someone developing dementia. Ageing, genes, health and lifestyle (for example, exercise, diet or smoking) all play a part. Most people with dementia are over 65 years of age, but dementia can also affect younger people.

Dr David Crichton, Medical Officer at NHS South Yorkshire said “Dementia Action Week is a timely reminder that while dementia develops over time, there are steps we can all take to reduce our risk.  These include keeping active, not smoking, eating healthily and exercising your mind. Not only do these habits reduce our risk of dementia, but they can also reduce the risk of other conditions including cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, stroke and heart disease.”

“If you're worried about your own memory, or think you may have dementia, it's a good idea to see a GP. If you're worried about someone else's memory problems, encourage them to make an appointment with a GP and perhaps suggest that you go with them. This symptoms checklist > provides a useful guide on possible symptoms of dementia”.

Dementia can be difficult to diagnose, especially if your symptoms are mild. If the GP has been able to rule out other causes for your symptoms, they'll refer you to a healthcare professional who specialises in diagnosing dementia.

The NHS has information and advice available on their website which can be accessed via:  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dementia/help-and-support/