Dementia is an all-encompassing term for the decline in cognitive ability that occurs in more than 100 brain diseases, including Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and the biggest cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease.
It is important to understand that dementia is a symptom of an underlying disease and is not an unavoidable consequence of growing older.
However, age is the biggest risk factor in developing dementia, so as our population ages the incidence of dementia is rising. A small percentage of dementias are due to inherited disorders in which the onset of dementia occurs early, in someone's 40s or 50s.
People with dementia usually deteriorate gradually, and the symptoms will differ from one person to another, but all involve a deterioration in cognitive ability - that is the ability to remember, plan, reason and learn. A person's mood and personality will also be affected, with depression a common co-morbidity.
The most common forms of dementia are Alzheimer's disease, Vascular dementia, Parkinson's disease, Dementia with Lewy bodies, Fronto Temporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD), Huntington's disease, Alcohol related dementia (Korsakoff's syndrome) and Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease.
Early Symptoms include:
- Unusual irritability
- Impaired decision making
Late Symptoms include:
- Forgetting major events and/or names of loved ones
- Inability to care for one’s self or home
- Inability to manage daily responsibilities
- Personality changes, sometimes including aggression
- Difficulties sleeping, using the toilet and eating
If you are worried about the signs and symptoms of dementia, your first visit should be to your general practitioner.
The Florey is home to two disease diagnosis laboratories, the National Dementia Diagnostic Laboratory and the Australian National Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease Registry.
Your clinician will arrange the appropriate tests directly with the services.View labs and projects
Lewy Body Study
A longitudinal cohort study of dementia with Lewy bodies
Dementia with Lewy bodies is a common form of dementia in older people, second only to Alzheimer’s disease. It is a condition that shares symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease and is associated with high rates of morbidity, mortality and poorer quality of life than Alzheimer’s disease. In a longitudinal cohort study of 100 people with dementia with Lewy bodies we aim to determine the influence of biomarkers on clinical symptoms and disease outcomes in order to improve the clinical diagnosis, deliver appropriate information and care for patients and assist in the development of disease modifying therapies.
More information: Lewy Body Study Trial
Dr Rosie Watson MBBS, FRACP, PhD
Consultant Physician in Geriatric MedicineView labs and projects