What is Dementia?

Dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) that is associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities. These include:

  • Memory
  • Thinking
  • Language
  • Understanding
  • Judgement

People with dementia may also become:

  • apathetic
  • have problems controlling their emotions or behaving appropriately in social situations


Aspects of their personality may change, or they may see or hear things that other people do not or have false beliefs. Most cases of dementia are caused by damage to the structure of the brain. People with dementia usually need help from friends or relatives, including help in making decisions.

Did you know there is evidence that many cases of dementia can be delayed or prevented through lifestyle changes, even if these are made in mid-life.

  • Almost a quarter (228/1000 cases) of all cases of dementia are linked to lifestyle risk factors that can be improved
  • The odds of cognitive impairment are 38% less for those who regularly exercised
  • Memory function decline is 1.9 times greater among smokers. This risk rises as smoking increases
  • Those smoking more than 2 cigarette packs per day in midlife are almost 3 times more likely to develop Vascular Dementia later in life. This is compared to non-smokers.
  • People reporting loneliness have 1.64 times greater risk of developing dementia

Vascular risk factors are predicted to result in 3%-20% of new cases in the next 20 years.

Dementia is a common condition. In England alone, there are currently 570,000 people living with dementia. That number is expected to double over the next 30 years. Usually, dementia occurs in people who are 65 or over. The older you get, the more likely you are to develop it. Dementia is slightly more common in women than in men.

For further information, including information about dementia friends please follow this link:


Last reviewed: 01/06/2023