Dr Zoe says walking can reduce risk of dementia
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Anchor, which specialises in housing and care for people in later life, has a Reframing Dementia guide. It says: “Broadly, the symptoms associated with dementia are a decline in memory, reasoning and communication skills, a gradual loss of the ability to carry out daily activities and to make sense of the world around us, and confusion.”
It notes the symptoms of dementia gradually develop over time, but how fast the dementia progresses will depend on each individual.
The NHS advises that if you or a loved one is becoming increasingly forgetful, particularly if aged over 65, it is a good idea to seek medical advice in case it could be an early sign of dementia.
Some possible symptoms to be aware of, according to the guide, are:
- Increased forgetfulness – for example forgetting recent events or forgetting the names of friends or everyday objects
- Losing the thread of a conversation
- Feeling confused even when in a familiar environment
- Increasing difficulties with tasks and activities that require concentration and planning
- Changes in behaviour and mood
- Difficulty finding the right words
- Orientation difficulties
- Difficulties with sequencing.
It notes that there are many things that can cause these symptoms that are not dementia, so always contact your GP in the first instance to rule out treatable conditions if you have any concerns.
Dementia Australia says that the early signs of dementia “are very subtle” and may not be immediately obvious.
It adds that early symptoms also vary across individual patients, but there are a number of early signs.
Alongside memory problems, a key sign is repetitive behaviour. Others also find that they have difficulty performing familiar tasks and social isolation.
Dementia Australia adds that early signs also include confusion about time and place, problems with abstract thinking, loss of initiative, poor or decreased judgement, language problems and other behavioural changes.
The Alzheimer’s Association states: “People living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia may have problems sleeping or experience increased confusion, anxiety or agitation.”
The NHS says that dementia symptoms may also include problems with language, such as using words incorrectly, or trouble speaking, as well as movement and difficulties doing daily activities.
It explains: “The symptoms of dementia usually become worse over time. In the late stage of dementia, people will not be able to take care of themselves and may lose their ability to communicate.”
The NHS suggests that risk factors such as hearing loss, untreated depression, loneliness or social isolation, or sitting for most of the day, may also be important.
The Alzheimer’s Society notes that mid-life – from your 40s into your early 60s – is a good time to start taking steps to reduce your risk of developing dementia, though it is helpful to take steps at any age.
“The brain changes that cause dementia can start years or even decades before symptoms develop. If you live a healthy lifestyle now, you are reducing the chances that these brain changes will happen,” it adds.
Some dementia risk factors are impossible to change, such as age and genetics, however research suggests other risk factors may also be important, and may be possible to change.
The NHS Health Check can help find early signs and tell you if you’re at higher risk of certain health problems that can also increase your risk of dementia.
It is a free check-up of your overall health for people aged 40 to 74 who do not have heart disease, diabetes or kidney disease, and have not had a stroke, and is offered every five years.
The number of people with dementia is increasing, perhaps because people are living longer.
By 2025, Dementia UK reports more than one million people will be living with dementia in the UK.
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