Dementia occurs as a result of physical changes in the structure of the brain. These changes can affect memory, thinking, behaviour, personality and emotion. Because dementia is a progressive syndrome, symptoms will gradually worsen. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, although there are several other forms. No single factor has been identified as a cause for dementia or Alzheimer's disease. It is likely that a combination of factors, including age, genetic inheritance and environment are responsible.
There are over 48,000 people with dementia in New Zealand. Alzheimers New Zealand works with people with dementia, their family/whanau, friends and community. We estimate around 300,000 New Zealanders are affected by dementia. People of all ages, ethnicities and intellectual ability can get dementia. While it is more common in people over the age of 65, it can also affect younger people.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia (50-70%). As the disease progresses, physical changes occur in the structure of the brain. Brain cells die and the brain shrinks, especially in the inner parts of the temporal lobes. Plaques and tangles form in brain tissue and disrupt messages between brain cells, preventing the brain from working efficiently.
People with Alzheimer's disease experience a gradual decline in their ability to remember, understand, communicate and reason. Some medications are available, which may mask the progression of Alzheimer's disease in the early stages.
You can click here to take an interactive tour that explains how the brain works and how Alzheimer's affects it.
Other common forms of dementia include
Infection related dementia (AIDS-related cognitive impairment)
Dementia usually causes difficulties with some of the following:
- thinking and planning
- making decisions
- looking after yourself
- expressing thoughts
- understanding what others are saying
- finding your way around
- managing finances
Dementia is not:
- part of normal ageing
- something to be ashamed of or hidden away
- something that you have to face alone
For further information please go to our resource centre.
Call for better understanding of dementia care
Posted 24 April 2013
Scam Alert from "newyearsupport"
Posted 25 February 2013
Posted 18 February 2013
National Dementia Awareness Campaign
Posted 04 February 2013
Younger Onset Dementia Forum
Posted 14 January 2013
Congratulations Alzheimers Rotorua
Posted 11 October 2012
Alzheimers New Zealand launches national awareness campaign
Posted 04 September 2012
Dementia made a national health priority in Australia
Posted 15 August 2012