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What is dementia?

Dementia advice

Dementia affects millions around the world, but many people still don’t understand what it is.

Dementia is not one specific condition – it’s a term used to describe a set of symptoms that affect memory and behaviour. Alzheimer’s  is the most common type of dementia, but there are many other types, each with different signs and symptoms.

What are the types of dementia?

There are more than 200 subtypes of dementia, but most people have one of the four main types: Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, or frontotemporal dementia.

Learn more about the differences between these types of dementia


What are the common myths around dementia?

Myth: Dementia is a normal part of ageing
Although some memory changes occur as people age, dementia is not a normal part of ageing. It is caused when diseases damage the nerve cells in the brain. Read more about the signs and stages of dementia.

Myth: Dementia always includes memory loss
 Different types of dementia affect different areas of the brain, and this results in a range of symptoms, including changes in behaviour, trouble problem solving or problems with movement or balance.

Each individual experiences dementia differently, and that means no two cases are the same. Read more about the common signs of dementia.

Myth: ‘Challenging behaviour’ is a normal symptom of dementia
For someone living with dementia, having behaviours that challenge is not a natural symptom. These are caused by unmet needs, the actions of those around the person with dementia or by their environment. Learn more about coping with the complex needs of dementia.

Myth: We know what causes dementia
 The causes of the diseases behind dementia are often unknown, but there are some risk factors for dementia, the most common of which is age; most cases of dementia affect people over 65. Poor heart health and traumatic brain injuries also increase the risk of dementia.

There are some actions you can take to reduce the risk of dementia:

  • Exercise body and brain regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Don’t smoke
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Good hearing
  • Control blood pressure 
  • Control diabetes
  • Avoid social isolation
  • Treat depression

Myth: You can’t live well with dementia
We help individuals to live well with dementia by supporting them to live as independently as possible and continue doing the things they enjoy even as their dementia progresses. In the later stage of dementia, we provide Namaste care in our homes to continue engaging residents with a comforting sensory experience.


Dementia is a condition that can be managed to ensure those who live with it can continue to lead fulfilling, meaningful lives and can be supported to still do the things they love.

Suzanne MumfordHead of Nursing, Care and Dementia Services at Care UK

Read more about our research into the top misconceptions of dementia.

What treatment is available for dementia?

While there is no cure for dementia, there are treatments and lifestyle changes that can help you to continue living a meaningful life.

It’s important to stay physically and mentally active, to continue enjoying social activities and spending time with family and friends.

Some medications can be used to slow the progression of memory loss and to help with physical problems or with behaviour and mood, although these should be used with caution. Symptoms can change as dementia progresses, so have regular reviews and adapt your care to the stage of dementia and your personal situation.

What support is available?

At Care UK, we're here to help you throughout your journey with dementia. Our new video guide, One step at a time, features tips from experts as well as testimonials from families who have been through this journey themselves.

If you have more questions about dementia, our colleagues have expertise to share. Check out our  dementia help and advice articles, explore advice from the experts in our guides or take a look at more sources of support.  

Why Care UK?

We'll be there for you every step of the way through your journey with dementia. Our colleagues receive training to enhance their understanding of what it's like to live with dementia, and we employ some of the UK's top dementia experts to drive improvements in person-centred dementia care across every care home.  

Find your local care home and give them a call for more information. 


Dementia is a progressive condition, but the rate at which a person’s symptoms change will vary. Towards the late stage of dementia, an individual might become frailer, have problems eating or swallowing and talk less often.

As dementia progresses, it’s not always possible for a person living with the condition to stay at home. If your loved one is becoming more forgetful or struggling with everyday tasks like eating and dressing, it may be the right time to review your care options. Read more about when someone with dementia should go into a care home.

The point at which your loved one will need to consider transitioning to a care home offering a safe environment with 24-hour care will depend on their circumstances, including the type of dementia they have and how quickly it is progressing. Read about the benefits of living in a care home for people with dementia.

At Care UK, our teams encourage people living with dementia to remain active and live fulfilling lives by focusing on what they can do rather than what they can’t. To learn more about navigating dementia, explore our video guide, One step at a time.

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