A progressive form of dementia known as Alzheimer's disease is affecting almost a million people in this country.
Alzheimer's disease is a breakdown of mental processes in the brain, giving rise to memory loss, changes in personality, impaired reasoning, disorientation and a general inability to look after oneself.
Dementia normally affects over 65's and can be linked with other ageing processes. Alzheimer's on the other hand, can affect people as young as 40. Typical symptoms, which include confusion with time and place, mean that frequently sufferers will not recognize their loved ones of recent years but may remember friends and family of years ago, as if time had turned back the clock.
This can be very distressful and frustrating for those caring for them. A normally mild mannered person, capable of looking after himself or herself well, can gradually change to become an aggressive natured person, who is insistent on wandering and quite unable to look after himself or herself.
With Alzheimer's, there is no reversal or remission, and sometimes the sufferer may be extremely well physically. There are many care support groups aimed at helping relatives and care and further advice can be got from the Alzheimer's Disease Society on 0207 306 0606.
Additional medical conditions: