What is dementia?

Choose a question to find out more about dementia.

What is dementia?

Like other parts of the body, brains sometimes get ill. There are some illnesses that stop a person’s brain from working properly.

When a person has one of these illnesses, their brain starts to have problems doing all the jobs it has to do.

The person may start to have problems remembering, thinking or speaking. They might say or do things that seem strange. They start finding it more difficult to do everyday things. They may not seem like the same person they used to be.

We call these problems dementia.

Who gets dementia?

Most people who have dementia are older than 65.  Most older people don’t get dementia though.

Sometimes a person who is younger than 65 gets dementia, but this does not happen very often.

Doctors don’t always know why some people get dementia and other people don’t. They are working hard to find out more about dementia.


Will I get dementia?

The illnesses that cause dementia are not like chicken pox or flu. You can’t catch them from another person.

If somebody in your family has dementia, it does not mean that you will get dementia when you are older.

This information was updated in December 2017 and is due for review in December 2019. Please contact us if you would like a version with references.