Dementia is an illness which affects the brain, causing the brain cells to die at a faster rate than normal. It is NOT normal ageing. As a result, the mental abilities of the person with dementia declines. This leads to failing memory, deterioration of intellectual function and personality changes.
Who is Affected?
It affects mainly elderly people. Locally, according to the Well-being of the Singapore Elderly (WiSE) study led by the Institute of Mental Health in 2015, one in 10 people aged 60 and above may have dementia. This translates to almost 82,000 people in 2018 and the number is expected to exceed 100,000 in a few years’ time. Read more here.
Types of Dementia
Dementia is an umbrella term that describes a wide range of symptoms including memory loss and mental decline.
There are two common types of dementia: Alzheimer’s Disease and Vascular Dementia. In Alzheimer’s disease, the onset of symptoms and the progression of the illness is gradual. Although the cause is still unknown, present research suggests that there is a familial tendency and certain chemicals in the brain are lacking. As yet, there is no known medical cure for the disease. Vascular dementia results from a series of strokes in the brain and it is also known as post-stroke dementia.
Symptoms of Dementia
Generally, there are three stages which mark the onset and progression of the disease.
Below is a checklist of symptoms of dementia:
- Problems with recent memory
- Problems with visual perception
- Changes in mood, behaviour & personality
- Withdrawal from hobbies & activities
- Misplacing things
- Confused with places and time
- Difficulties in planning and thinking
- Difficulties in communication
- Difficulties in completing familiar tasks
- Poor judgement & impaired social behaviour
What can I do if someone I know is showing signs of dementia?
If you have a relative or loved one with memory problems:
Here are some ways of coping with forgetfulness:
- Remind people with dementia constantly of reality around them, for example, the day, date, month, year, time of day, place and the names of people around them.
- Keep to a regular routine.
- Use memory aids like diaries, memo boards, signs, clocks, calendars, etc.
For more information, you may refer to the Forget Us Not guidebook (in English and Mandarin). If you require further information or assistance, call our Dementia Helpline 6377 0700 or contact us.