Loss of memory – for example, forgetting the way home from the shops, or being unable to remember names and places, or what happened earlier the same day.
Mood changes – particularly as parts of the brain that control emotion are affected by disease. People with dementia may also feel sad, frightened or angry about what is happening to them.
Communication problems – a decline in the ability to talk, read and write.
Dementia is extremely common. There are about 700,000 people in the UK with dementia and this figure may rise by as much as 38% over the next 15 years and 154% over the next 45 years.
For many of us signs of a lapse in memory is nothing to worry about just irritating, however, for some people lapses in memory can be a sign of something more serious.
Such lapses will not be those little irritating things but those that have a greater impact on our daily lives such as getting lost in familiar surroundings, leaving the gas on unlit or appearing quite confused. If we are the one with the memory problem it is quite likely we will be unaware of the extent to which our memory is affecting us and it may be our closest family members who ‘notice’ the changes.
This is not always the case and we may be aware of a feeling that ‘something isn’t quite right’ or that we are not coping as well as we used to. It is really important to ask for help. There are many different causes for memory problems and confusion.
For example problems relating to poor kidney function, some types of anaemia, thyroid problems and infections can, if untreated, lead to symptoms associated with memory loss and confusion.
It is essential that anyone concerned about symptoms visits their GP who will arrange for tests to ensure all treatable causes are investigated for and treatments are offered where appropriate.