When we think of dementia, we think of memory loss, but it expands upon it. For a start, most people hear of Alzheimer's, but there are other types of dementia as well.
They may affect reading and writing, movement, and even the ability to follow a conversation.
Changes in behavior, mood and behavior may also occur. As Lynne Wallis told her mother this week in this week's Mail On Sunday Health, dementia can completely change a person. That makes it difficult for doctors to diagnose, especially early on.
There is no cure, and there are very few ways to reliably slow the inevitable march of these diseases.
All of these things combined can leave patients and their families even more confused.
But that doesn't mean modern medicine can't help ̵1; in fact, it's the opposite. With that in mind, here, I've tried to answer some of your important questions about dementia.
When we think of dementia, we think of memory loss, but it is immense. For a start, most people hear of Alzheimer's, but there are other types of dementia. (File photo)
I was worried about my 68-year-old mother for a while, because she didn't seem to be herself – even when she was caught shoplifting, out of character. We were worried about dementia, but the results of a memory test returned to normal so the doctor said nothing was wrong. But I know there is.
Memory loss is just one aspect of dementia. These illnesses can cause personality changes.
For common types of dementia such as Alzheimer's, memory loss is often preceded, after which behavioral changes occur later. But about five percent of people with dementia will have something called frontotemporal dementia. The first and most prominent features are behavior: loss of inhibitions, changes in likes and dislikes, inappropriate social behaviors and unusual rituals. The loss of memory will come later.
Symptoms such as those described here should be discussed with his GP, along with any history of depression or mini-stroke. More testing and a brain scan – an MRI – are probably required.
My wife has dementia. Usually I feel so much sadness in everyone and I feel sad. I feel bad talking about myself, because she's the one who is sick. But on bad days, I just couldn't seem to cope and, I don't want to admit, I wanted to run for the hills. Is this normal?
Absolutely. If you do not feel this way, it is not normal. Any role of a caregiver is incredible, no matter what situation you find yourself in.
You experience sadness for the partner you have, including a fear for the future and daily stress from caring. This is a huge burden to carry.
I encourage anyone who feels this way to register with your GP that you are a carer, and discover what assistance is available. In many places there are counseling services so you can talk about how you feel.
There may be some social care or caregiver support as well. The charity Carers UK (carersuk.org) also offers great advice.
More from Dr Ellie Cannon for The Mail on Sunday …
My 67-year-old wife was diagnosed sed two years ago with dementia. He used to be active, but now rarely has left home. I read that exercise is good for dementia, I tried to suggest ways but he refused. What else do you suggest?
Exercise is really important: it decreases isolation, increases confidence and bone strength, and can also improve memory and slow decline. It is worth exploring what is available in your area – for example, t 'ai chi or specific classes for older people.
Your local authority can tell you what's available, and there may be a local budget for & # 39; social 'it's worth asking your GP. This will enable her to go to an appropriate session at no cost.
Gardening is an option because it includes exercise training and safe movement. And the exercise can be done without leaving the house – use his favorite music to dance with him a little every day.
The Alzheimer's Society (alzheimers.org.uk) has some great ideas for sitting exercises.
My father was seen at something called a memory clinic. No one said the word 'dementia', but I think that's what he had. Will I be told if it is?
We refer patients to memory clinics for diagnosis of dementia, as well as treatment. If dementia is not suspected, staff usually discharge patients. Some patients have memory changes caused by good conditions such as Vitamin B12 deficiency.
That said, dementia is not an easy test that can be done. Establishing which patient's dementia (there are six major types) can take time as the scan results return.
Until staff can obtain all the information they cannot determine the diagnosis or use the word & # 39; dementia. You should say this, but if you don't, you should ask to have all the information.
Dementia is not an easy test to make. Establishing which dementia a patient has (there are six major types) can take time while the scan results return. (File image)
I had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and told a friend that I should enroll in a clinical trial to get new treatments. How can I do this – and are there risks?
The safest way to do this is through Join Dementia Research (join dementiaresearch.nihr.ac.uk). It's like a matchmaker service: you join by signing up online, then they'll let you know about suitable recruiting studies.
It may include tests on drugs, scanners or even genetic testing. But it's important that your expectations are realistic: this is definitely not a guaranteed way to get new treatments.
Trials may involve the use of existing drugs, for example.
Left, unheard of, hearing loss thought to increase the chance of dementia.
My father passed away earlier this year with dementia. Having witnessed first-hand how difficult the situation is, I'm worried that I might get it too when I'm older. Can dementia inherit, and can I check to see if I can get it?
Genetics play a minor role in dementia. Most people with Alzheimer's have no known genetic mutation. There is a small group of people who develop Alzheimer's in younger people, and it can be genetic and run in families. But for most of us, it is not just genes but a combination of risk factors.
Diabetes and smoking appear to increase risks, such as a lack of exercise and depression.
My husband was diagnosed with dementia earlier this year and I was afraid to ask his specialist how long he would be away.
This is a very difficult question to answer. People with dementia usually live between three and nine years after diagnosis. There is a huge scope because there are many different types of dementia and, of course, it depends on the background health.
Within its time of survival, it is also difficult to estimate how disease develops. We talk about the stages of dementia as early, medium or severe, and each of these stages takes about two years to move forward.
In the early stages, planning was important: finances, care and health. This includes registering a power of attorney (gov.uk/power-of-attorney) and an advanced care directive – a living will.
Visit habagindying.org.uk for details.
My mother was diagnosed with dementia A few months ago. Is there a special diet that will help keep his brain healthy?
It's important for people with dementia to get enough calories. Those who suffer are susceptible to weight loss due to appetite and behavioral changes. They are also very susceptible to dehydration if they forget to drink. Eating regular foods is the priority.
DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION FOR DR ELLIE?
Email DrEllie@mailonsunday.co.uk or write to Health, The Mail on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5TT.  Dr Ellie can only respond in a general context and cannot respond to individual cases, or provide personal responses.
If you have any health concerns, always consult your own GP.
My husband has long suffered from type 2 diabetes, and last year he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. His memory is gradually deteriorating so it's not difficult for us to manage the same conditions. What should we do?
This is confusing but very common. Type 2 diabetes in the middle ages or later increases the risk of both vascular dementia and Alzheimer's by 50 percent. Help from a GP in managing it is essential.
The regime of medicine needs to be simple but sufficient to control diabetes: a dosette box with compartments showing which pills to take at what time of the day is important.
A referral to a dietician is also helpful – it will help you establish a diet for your spouse that is useful for his diabetes but which he can enjoy despite his dementia.
How a song brought a smile to Barbara Windsor's face
Last month, Scott Mitchell, wife of Dame Barbara Windsor, says his memories that 'come back' when he sang
Music played an important role in so many life events.
Almost everyone has a song or two that reminds them of a special moment – and this is often accompanied by powerful emotions.
Last month, Scott Mitchell, the wife of Dame Barbara Windsor, said her memories were & # 39; re & # 39; when he sings.
The veteran actress was diagnosed with Alzheimer's five years ago, but Scott says the music eliminates the 82-year-old's happiness.
This is very important.
Managing dementia is not only about care and pills but also enjoyment and allows both patients and caregivers time to enjoy themselves – for Barbara it is obviously therapeutic.
And it is also very important that he and Scott enjoy being together as a couple, something that is often thrown into dementia as well.