What is Dementia?

There are many different forms of dementia, but they all usually indicate some difficulty in memory or judgment. Dementia affects the brain in certain ways that cause one to have obstacles in their daily functioning. Individuals diagnosed with dementia may experience difficulty in speaking or writing coherently, recognizing familiar scenery, and demonstrating multi-step processes. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease which causes plaques on the brain and loss of neurons that affect 60-80 percent of the population. On the other hand, there are other forms of dementia. For example, vascular dementia, which is caused by loss of blood to certain areas of the brain, is more common in people who have had strokes or long-standing high blood pressure. Additionally, dementia with lewy bodies causes one to have Parkinson- like symptoms, extreme hallucinations, and act out their dreams. Most dementia is more common in older individuals, and some people may have a combination of different forms. For more information on the different types of dementia click here

What causes Dementia?  

As one ages they are at an increased risk for developing dementia, as it becomes more common in individuals over 80 and is rarely seen in people under 60. It has also been studied that there is a genetic factor to developing dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s Disease. If you have a first degree relative with Alzheimer’s you are more likely to develop it. Furthermore, due to the fact that vascular dementia is caused by strokes and other blockages that restrict blood flow, smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol may play a role in developing vascular dementia. Therefore, it is not totally clear how, but individuals who maintain healthy lifestyle habits and remain socially engaged have a lower risk of developing dementia. 

What are the symptoms of Dementia?

Every person experiences dementia differently, as symptoms vary by age, person, and type of dementia. However, usually, someone diagnosed with dementia experiences difficulty with, language, memory, judgment, and thinking. As one ages it is normal to experience some sort of memory loss, but if the memory loss becomes severe enough to impair daily functioning, it may be time to speak to your doctor. Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s specifically may include confusion, becoming lost in a familiar place, having difficulty doing routine complex tasks like paying bills, or difficulty with language or reasoning. As the disease progresses and symptoms worsen one might experience difficulty with sleep, controlling anger, disorientation, incontinence, or daily tasks like bathing or eating. The progression of the disease varies from person to person and may take from five to ten years for the disease to reach its peak. 

How to treat Dementia?

It is important if one is diagnosed with dementia for their caregivers to maintain their safety. The person with dementia doesn’t understand their limitations and may continue to perform their daily activities which may bring them harm. It is important to establish medication regimes, monitor their driving habits, oversee their cooking routine, and maintain protocols to avoid wandering or falls. Today, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are medications your doctor can prescribe to help with the symptoms. Additionally, individuals suffering from vascular dementia should manage their blood pressure and cholesterol. For more information click here.

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