What is a degenerative illness?


One thing that you will often hear about dementia is that it is a degenerative illness. In simple terms, this means that dementia continues to worsen with time. While this sounds scary, there are many ways of slowing down this process, meaning that a person living with dementia can maintain a fulfilling and normal life for as long as possible.

Why is dementia degenerative?

The disease that causes dementia, whether it is Alzheimer’s or otherwise, will spread to different areas of the brain over time. In addition to the new areas of the brain being affected, areas that have already suffered with damage will continue to worsen. As more areas of the brain are affected, more symptoms will become evident, such as changes in memory, language, communication, emotions and physical movement.

The speed of progression

Several different factors can alter the speed at which dementia progresses. One of the key factors is the cause of dementia, for example, Alzheimer’s disease tends to progress at a slower rate than many others. If a person is living with other health conditions that are not well-managed, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, this can increase the rate at which dementia progresses.

Sudden changes in symptoms

If a person’s dementia symptoms seem to have suddenly worsened, this could be a sign of infection or even stroke, the latter of which is common in people living with vascular dementia. You should always seek medical advice if a loved one’s symptoms change rapidly. Even if you are unsure, always trust your instincts and seek medical help, just in case.

For more information or if you wish to discuss care for your loved one please email care@greensleeves.org.uk