What is dementia?

Choose a question to find out more about dementia.

Why do people with dementia change?

When we were babies, we didn’t know how to walk, talk, play, eat or go to the toilet. We had to learn these things. As we grow, we keep learning new things every day. All this learning is stored in our brains.

Grandmother and her grandchild making sandwichesWhen a person has dementia, their brain starts to forget some of the things they have learned and has trouble helping them do other things. They might forget words and names. They might forget what they’ve just said, and say the same thing over and over again. They may get muddled up and have trouble working out what to do and when.

As their brain gets more unwell, they start to have trouble with more and more things. They might have trouble working out where they are, and get lost easily. They might not be able to recognise who people are – even people that they love. They might find it really hard to do things that used to be easy for them.

Over time, people with dementia can find it tricky to do things like talking, getting dressed, washing, eating or going to the toilet. They need even more help and care from other people.

"She used to be able to take us out and spend the day making things or cooking but she can’t do that now, she doesn’t know how to and she gets confused."


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.