The Alzheimer’s Society (2015) reports there are over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today. Of these, approximately, 42,000 are people with young onset dementia, which affects people under the age of 65. As a person’s age increases, so does the risk of them developing dementia. It is estimated that the number of people living with dementia in the UK by 2025 will rise to over 1 million. Rates of diagnosis are improving but many people with dementia are thought to still be undiagnosed.
Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases.
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders, that is, conditions affecting the brain. There are many different types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common. Some people may have a combination of types of dementia. Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way.
Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia in the over-65 age group. It’s an umbrella term for a group of conditions caused by problems with blood circulation to the brain. Causes can range from small blood clots, to blocked arteries, to burst blood vessels.
Frontotemporal dementia is the second most common form of dementia for under-65s. It is a group of conditions caused by the death of nerve cells and pathways in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia (around 60% of diagnoses), although comparatively rare for under-65s. It’s thought to be caused by abnormal amounts of proteins in the brain that create plaques and tangles that interfere with and damage nerve cells.