Dementia is a syndrome – usually of a chronic or progressive nature – in which there is deterioration in cognitive function (i.e. the ability to process thought) beyond what might be expected from normal ageing.
It affects memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language, and judgement. Consciousness is not affected.
Although dementia mainly affects older people, it is not a normal part of ageing.
It is caused by a variety of brain illnesses that affect memory, thinking, behaviour and ability to perform everyday activities.
The number of people living with dementia worldwide is currently estimated at 47.5 million and is projected to increase to 75.6 million by 2030. The number of cases of dementia are estimated to more than triple by 2050.
Dementia is overwhelming not only for the people who have it, but also for their caregivers and families. Caring for dementia patients is overwhelming for caregivers. The stresses include physical, emotional and economic pressures.
Care givers require support from the health, social, financial and legal systems. There is a lack of awareness and understanding of dementia in most countries.
The principal goals for dementia care are:
- Diagnosing cases early
- Optimizing physical health, cognition, activity and well-being
- Detecting and treating behavioral and psychological symptoms
- Providing information and long-term support to caregivers