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Dementia - part of When we get ill - State of Suffolk 2021

Five key points

  1. In 2020 there were around 13,000 people with dementia living in Suffolk. By 2040 it is likely to be around 21,000. Nearly half the people living with dementia in Suffolk are undiagnosed.
  2. Dementia is more common in women and in people of Black and South Asian ethnicity. 
  3. Many people with dementia have complex needs because they also have other health conditions. 
  4. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of death in England and in Suffolk. 
  5. Some dementia is preventable. Risk factors include hypertension, hearing impairment, smoking, obesity, depression, physical inactivity, diabetes, infrequent social contact, excessive alcohol consumption, traumatic brain injury and air pollution. 

What is dementia?

‘Dementia’ describes a set of symptoms that include loss of concentration and memory problems, mood and behaviour changes, and problems with communicating and reasoning. These symptoms can occur when the brain is damaged by certain diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease), by a series of small strokes, or by other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease.

Around 60% people with dementia have Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common type of dementia, around 20% have vascular dementia, which results from problems with the blood supply to the brain, and many people have a mixture of the two (NHS About dementia; WHO Dementia).

Dementia is a progressive condition, which means that the symptoms become more severe over time.