Dementia is used to describe different brain disorders, all of which share a loss of brain function that is usually progressive and eventually severe. Different types of dementia have different possible causes. In many cases, these causes are not fully understood.
The most common of the 100 or so types of dementia are Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies, caused by the destruction of nerve cells in the brain. These nerve cells cannot be replaced, so the symptoms of a person with Alzheimer's disease get progressively worse as more cells are destroyed.
Symptoms of dementia include loss of memory, confusion and problems with speech and understanding. Precious few forms of dementia are curable, but there are some drugs available that alleviate the symptoms in some people (follow the links below for more).
As a carer, it's really important to treat the person with dementia with kindness and respect and never forget that in spite of their illness, the person with dementia is still a unique and valuable human being. Some of the links below have useful specialist information on how you can cope with caring for someone with dementia and emotional issues, such as feelings of guilt you may experience over the course of the caring process.
When you're caring for someone with dementia, it can be all too easy to ignore your needs, but you shouldn't lose sight of the fact that your well-being matters too – and the more you take care of yourself, the better equipped you will be to provide high quality care for your loved one.
The Alzheimer's Society has a range of information for carers of people with dementia in its online library, the Dementia Knowledge Centre.
Talking Point is an online community for people with dementia and their carers, family and friends to discuss all aspects of the condition. Talking Point is hosted by the Alzheimer's Society, and supported by a group of volunteer moderators.
The Social Care Institute for Excellence have developed seven e-learning modules which are aimed at anyone who comes into contact with people with dementia.