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An Overview Of Dementia

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Unlike believed by many dementia is not a specific disease. The condition just describes a set of symptoms which affect the memory, thinking and social abilities of an individual severely to interfere with everyday functioning.

Despite dementia being a cause for memory loss, it has been noted that the loss of memory could have different reasons. Therefore you cannot be confirmed as having dementia if you are suffering from memory loss.

Among the early Alzheimer’s disease is identified as the most common cause of progressive dementia. However, a number of causes can cause this condition and depend upon the cause some of the symptoms of dementia can be reversed.

“With something like cancer, there is a feeling that you can fight it in some way or control your response to it, but with dementia, there is the fear of losing control of your mind and your life.” Kevin Whately

Symptoms and Causes of Dementia

The symptoms of dementia may vary according to the cause but some of the common symptoms include the following:

Cognitive Changes

  • Memory loss which is generally noticed by a spouse or someone close to the family.
  • Difficulties in communicating or locating words.
  • Difficulties with reasoning and solving problems.
  • Difficulties in handling complicated tasks.
  • Difficulties with planning and organizing.
  • Difficulties with coordination and motor functions.
  • Confusion and disorientation.

Psychological Changes

  • Changes in the personality.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Paranoia.
  • Agitation.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Inappropriate behavior.

When to Consider Help From A Doctor

Help from a doctor should be considered if you or a loved one has problems with her memory and other symptoms which are related to dementia. Medications given for some treatable conditions can also cause the symptoms of this condition and therefore it is essential to determine the underlying cause of dementia.

The Causes Of Dementia

Dementia involves damage to the nerve cells in the brain can occur in different parts of the brain. The area of the brain affected will determine the kind of effects dementia will have on a person.

The condition of dementia is often grouped by what they have in similar like the part of the brain that is affected or whether the condition can worsen over a period of time [progressive dementias]. Improvements can be seen in certain types of dementia which may have been caused by a reaction to medications or vitamin deficiencies.

Progressive Dementias

 

Certain types of dementias progress and are not reversible and these include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease. The most common cause of dementia among people who are over the age of 65 is Alzheimer’s disease. The cause of Alzheimer’s hasn’t been identified until this moment but plaques and tangles are found in the brains of people Alzheimer’s. Plaques are created by clumps of protein which are known as beta-amyloid and tangles are fibrous and made from tau-protein. Alzheimer’s can also be caused by certain genetic factors.
  • Vascular dementia. This is the second most common variety of dementia which occurs because of damage to the vessels which supply blood to the brain. The problem with blood vessels would have been caused by a stroke or other conditions related to the vessels.
  • Frontotemporal dementia. This is a group of conditions characterized by the degeneration of nerve cells within the frontal and the temporal lobes of the brain which are the areas that are generally associated with behavior, language, and personality.

Just as with other verities of dementias the causes for these conditions aren’t known.

Mixed Dementia. Autopsy studies conducted on the brains of people 80 years and older who suffered from dementia have indicated that a number of them had a combination of Alzheimer’s, vascular and Lewy body dementia. Ongoing studies are underway to determine how mixed dementia can affect the symptoms or the treatments.

“Seven hundred thousand people who have dementia in this country are not heard. I’m fortunate; I can be heard. Regrettably, it’s amazing how people listen if you stand up in public and give away $1 million for research into the disease, as I have done.”Terry Pratchett

Complications

  • Dementia can affect a number of body systems and therefore restrict the ability to function properly. Dementia has the potential to lead to:
  • Inadequate nutrition. People with dementia are known eventually to reduce their intake of nutrients because they could be unable to chew or swallow.
  • Pneumonia. The difficulties with swallowing increases the risks of choking which can block the breathing and cause pneumonia.
  • Inability to perform self-care. When the condition of dementia progresses it begins interfering with normal tasks like bathing, dressing, using the washroom independently or taking medications as prescribed.
  • Personal safety challenges. Everyday situations can present safety issues for people with dementia which include driving, cooking and even walking alone.
  • Death. Dementia affecting the elderly often results in coma or death which is a result of infections.

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