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Dementia is an umbrella term like cancer. It is used to describe symptoms that occur when the brain is affected by certain diseases. Features of dementia include impaired memory and forgetfulness, personality and behaviour changes, communication difficulties and the loss of ability to plan, make good judgements and carry out multi-step tasks. In the later stages of dementia, people have problems carrying out everyday tasks and they become increasingly dependent on others. The person with dementia may feel sad, frightened and angry about what is happening.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. The chemistry and structure of the brain changes which results in gradual death of brain cells. Vascular dementia is caused by damage caused by interruptions in the blood flow to the brain.

Dementia with Lewy bodies has some features like Parkinson’s disease as well as dementia. Frontotemporal dementia is a rare form of dementia that affects the front part of the brain. Decision making and control of behaviour are often affected. Some other conditions that may mimic dementia are treatable. These include depression, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and vitamin B12 deficiency.


Alzheimer’s disease clusters in some families. There are some extremely rare genes that causeAlzheimer’s disease, usually at quite a young age. However, in most cases, there may be one or two affected relatives or sometimes none at all. If you have a close relative with late onset Alzheimer’s disease your risk of developing the disease at some point in your life is somewhat increased. However, in almost all cases, the risks are not so predictable that genetic counselling is going to be helpful.

In most cases of vascular dementia there is no genetic link. Some of the less common forms of dementia are caused by individual genes and these tend to run in families.

People with dementia often don’t recognise they have a problem and it is friends or family who notice. Memory tests can be used to clarify whether there is a problem. Most people developing memory problems are referred to memory clinics.

It is important that a thorough mental state examination, medical history and physical examination are performed. Routine blood tests should also be done. A brain scan should be done to rule out other conditions that may cause symptoms similar to dementia (such as tumours, strokes or fluid on the brain). However, there is no single specific test for most cases of Alzheimer’s disease.


Probably the most important thing is for people to take care of their general health – diet, exercise, managing medical conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. This may have some value in actually preventing dementia or delaying its onset, as well as being good for someone in whom dementia has been diagnosed.

There are some medicines that can be prescribed to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease but they do not cure it. Depression is common in people with dementia and antidepressants may need to be prescribed. People with dementia and their families will need to think about care and support for the future. Their GP, local authority and the Alzheimer’s Society can be very helpful in various ways – information, support and advice. It is important to maintain an active life if possible, paying attention to physical health, mental activity, social interests, and being as independent as possible. Caring for someone with dementia can be quite stressful so the health and well being of carers also needs attention.


New Perspectives is an East Midlands' based touring theatre company, specialising in bringing new work to rural and community audiences. Through an annual programme of original adaptations, rare revivals and new writing, we aim to bring live theatre that is diverse, affordable and accessible into the heart of wide-ranging communities, as well as to regional, national and international venues.  
Our productions are testament to the fact that rural theatre is as relevant, challenging and vital as theatre made for any other environment. Our participatory projects, career defining training and mentoring opportunities for emerging regional talent and rural touring scheme Northants Touring Arts makes tangible difference to people where they live.

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A 10-part audio series by visionary writer David Rudkin
THE SPIRIT trilogy online
as part of BAC Going Digital
View the trilogy is online this week through to 12 July
A drama in six postcards

SHHH...AKESPEARE online workshop
Macbeth retold - online here now!

Stage premiere based on the book by Janet Frame

Quirky international bestseller


Industry-wide we are facing a devastating impact from Coronavirus. If you have enjoyed our work and value our commitment to engaging with audiences and artists with limited access to live theatre please consider a donation to support our work over this challenging period. DONATE NOW
Our latest venture shows a novel way of reaching isolated rural audiences through a six-part drama written on a series of specially designed postcards. Find out more
Announcing the release of our epic audio series. Starring Toby Jones, Josie Lawrence,  Michael Pennington Steven Rea,  Juliet Stevenson, among many others, PlacePrints, by the maverick writer David Rudkin, tells the haunted stories of ten locations across the UK Find out more

We collected minute-long stories about your favourite Notts as part of the Nottstopping Festival Find out more