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Dementia is the term used to explain an array of symptoms of a large group of illnesses that cause a progressive decline in a person’s functioning.    It is a broad term used to describe a loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and physical functioning.   Over 60 different conditions are known to cause dementia symptoms, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia and Lewy Body disease.

Dementia is the single greatest cause of disability in older Australians and the third leading cause of disability burden overall.  Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 70% of all people with dementia.

Research has identified a range of factors that can increase your chances of getting dementia, including some factors that are modifiable.  There is strong evidence that cardiovascular risk factors as well as low education are associated with the risk of Alzheimer's disease or other dementias.  For the cardiovascular factors there is particularly strong evidence for hypertension in mid-life, and smoking and diabetes in mid‑and late life.

At present there is no prevention or cure for most forms of dementia; however, some medications have been found to reduce some symptoms.

In August and September 2016, Relationships Australia asked visitors to our website to participate in a two‑minute survey that asked them a range of questions relating to their awareness of dementia and help seeking behaviour.

Relationships Australia State and Territory websites