Dementia is one of the most common conditions experienced by Australians, affecting the ability to perform everyday tasks and in some circumstances requiring companionship from someone who is understanding and patient. Do you consider yourself an expert on all-things related to Dementia? September is Dementia Awareness Month, and to participate we are delving into some lesser-known facts that you might not know:

1.       There are over 100 diseases that can cause dementia. The most common causes include Alzheimer’s Disease, vascular dementia, Lewy Body disease, Parkinson’s Disease and Huntington’s Disease.

2.       More than 447,000 Australians are currently living with Dementia. Without a medical breakthrough, this number is expected to increase to 580,000 in less than a decade.

3.       Dementia is the second leading cause of death of Australians.

4.       Dementia is not one specific disease, but instead describes a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Dementia affects a person’s thinking, behaviour and ability to perform everyday tasks.

5.       Alzheimer’s Disease, one of the most common causes of dementia, is named after a German doctor called Alois Alzheimer who first observed and described a patient with memory loss and other problems with thinking in 1906.

6.       There is currently no cure for dementia.

7.       Dementia is a condition which has been recorded in people for hundreds of years! However, it was a relatively rare occurrence prior to the 20th century, as the life expectancy was much lower and hardly anyone lived to old age in pre-industrial society.

8.       Having diabetes increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 65%, according to a recent study. With careful management of diabetes this risk can be reduced, via medications that maintain blood glucose levels within a healthy range.

9.       Dementia is a disease symptom, and is not a normal part of ageing.

10.   Most cases of dementia are not inherited.

11.   Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks, who became famous after she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person, had struggled with dementia for years before dying of natural causes at age 92.

12.   Other celebrities who have suffered with dementia include comedian Robin Williams, former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and American actor Gene Wilder.

13.   The first signs of dementia are not immediately obvious since they can be subtle, and can include confusion, personality change, apathy and withdrawal, frequent memory loss and losing the ability to perform everyday tasks.

14.   Education can lower your risk. According to the National Institute on Aging, you can reduce the chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease by keeping your brain active in old age via methods such as taking classes on any subject, learning a new language, brain training games and playing a musical instrument.

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