What is dementia?

Dementia is a term which is used to describe a number of different symptoms or conditions that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. It is caused when the brain is damaged by disease, most commonly Alzheimer's disease, or a series of strokes.

In Devon and Torbay there are an estimated 15,400 people living with the condition. Over the next 30 years, we expect that number to increase by a third.

Providing effective health and social care that enables people to live well with dementia is therefore a priority.

How to spot dementia:

Symptoms of dementia can include:

  • memory loss, especially problems with memory of recent events
  • increasing difficulty with organising and planning tasks and activities
  • becoming confused in unfamiliar environments
  • having difficulty finding the right words
  • finding difficulty with numbers
  • changes in personality and mood, and depression.

You can read more about how to spot the signs of dementia at the NHS Choices website, or Alzheimer's Society.

How to reduce your risk of getting dementia

Leading a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk of getting dementia. This includes stopping smoking, taking regular exercise, eating a well-balanced diet and keeping yourself mentally stimulated.

What to do if you suspect dementia

If you are worried that you, or someone close to you, has dementia, then the more quickly you seek help, the better.

Your GP can rule out other conditions with similar symptoms and give you further advice, information and support on dementia. They may offer medication if appropriate.

If your GP is unable to make a diagnosis, they may refer you to one of our memory clinics or arrange further tests.