Dementia is a term that is applied to many symptoms, mainly associated with memory decline or other issues with thinking skills that have impaired a person’s ability to get by in life. Alzheimer’s disease makes up to between 60 and 80% of all cases of dementia. The second most common form of dementia is vascular dementia which occurs after a stroke.
Thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies may cause cases of reversible dementia. Although most with dementia are over 65, there are cases of it occurring in those under this age.
People often confuse dementia with Alzheimer’s disease, but in fact Alzheimer’s disease is simply one form of dementia.
Signs and symptoms
The most common sign of someone suffering from dementia is that they have problems with short term memory. It will often happen slowly and overtime get worse, or happen with increasing frequency.
The following are all signs of dementia: memory loss that makes day to day life difficult, challenges with planning or solving issues, not knowing the time or the place where the person is, issues with visual images and spatial relationships, problems with words, either speaking them or writing them, losing items and not being able to retrace steps to find it, poor judgment, holding back from social engagements, mood or personality changes.
Classifications of dementia
There are many different types of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with lewy bodies, fronto-temporal dementia, korsakoffs syndrome, CJd, HIV related cognitive impairment and mild cognitive impairment.
While their own signs and symptoms are all similar some may be more pronounced in some than others. It is mainly their reasons for beginning which differ, including stroke in the case of vascular, damage to the frontal brain for fronto temporal, alcohol induced for korsakoffs syndrome, and abnormal protein deposits in the brain for dementia with lewy bodies.
Lewy body dementia
This is closely linked with both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It is thought to affect about 10% of all diagnoses of dementia, and mainly occurring in those over 65.
Lewy bodies are protein deposits in nerve cells, these disrupt the brains normal functioning, interrupting the action of chemical messengers including dopamine. An initial diagnosis of Parkinson’s will often become a form of dementia that resembles lewy body dementia.
Symptoms tend to be a mixture of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s along with convincing hallucinations, falling asleep easily during the day but restless nights along with nightmares and have fainting spells or funny turns.
There are many different types of dementia and they all have their own sets of signs and symptoms which can affect the lifestyles of those it afflicts in varying stages.
As with many illnesses early detection of dementia will lead to more treatment options and better preparedness for dealing with the symptoms.
The most common forms of treatment for dementia is therapy, such as behavioral and cognitive stimulation and medications – although these only really help deal with the symptoms as opposed to being able to treat the dementia.
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