licensed, insured, bonded, state regulated and medicaid certified
Available 24 hrs. /day, 7days/week
Healthy Lifestyle Could Reduce Risk Of Dementia
Alzheimer’s and Other Forms of Dementia
Dementia is the loss of mental functions — such as thinking, memory, and reasoning — that is severe enough to interfere with a person’s daily functioning. Dementia is not a disease itself, but rather a group of symptoms that are caused by various diseases or conditions. Symptoms can also include changes in personality, mood, and behavior. In some cases, the dementia can be treated and cured because the cause is treatable. Examples of this include dementia caused by drugs or alcohol, or hormone or vitamin imbalances. In some cases, although the person may appear to have dementia, a severe depression can be causing the symptoms. This is known as pseudo-dementia (false dementia) and is highly treatable. In most cases, however, dementia cannot be cured.
Dementia develops when the parts of the brain that are involved with learning, memory, decision-making, and language are affected by one or more of a variety of infections or diseases. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, but there are as many as 50 other known causes. Most of these causes are very rare.
|Because some causes of dementia can be cured or partially treated, it is very important that your doctor is thorough when making the diagnosis, so as not to miss potentially treatable conditions. The frequency of “treatable” causes of dementia is believed to be about 20%.
What Causes Dementia?
Illness other than in the brain — kidney, liver, and lung diseases can all lead to dementia
Alzheimer’s disease causes 50-70% of all demetias. But researchers have found that two nervous diseases, which were originally incorrectly diagnosed as Alzheimer’s, are emerging as major causes of dementia: Lewy body disease and Pick’s disease.
How Common Is Dementia?
Although dementia has always been somewhat common, it has become even more common among the elderly in recent history. It is not clear if this increased frequency of dementia reflects a greater awareness of the symptoms, or if people simply are living longer and thus are more likely to develop dementia in their older age.
Dementia caused by nervous system disease, especially Alzheimer’s disease, is increasing in frequency more than most other types of dementia. Some researchers suspect that as many as half of all people over 80 years old develop Alzheimer’s disease. Also, the increased incidence of AIDS dementia complex, which results from HIV infection, helps account for the increased dementia in recent history, although with the invention of newer and better drugs to treat HIV, the occurrence of AIDS-associated dementia is declining.
Who Gets Dementia?
Dementia is considered a late-life disease because it tends to develop mostly in elderly people. About 5-8% of all people over the age of 65 have some form of dementia, and this number doubles every five years above that age. It is estimated that as many as half of people in their 80s suffer from dementia.
Which Dementias Are Treatable?
What Are Some of the Non-treatable Causes of Dementia?
Memory loss is the earliest and most noticeable symptom in Alzheimer’s disease. (For more information, see the topic Alzheimer’s Disease.) Memory loss also may develop in other types of dementia.
Other key symptoms of dementia include difficulty:
Some disorders that cause dementia have hallmark symptoms.
It is important to know that memory loss can be caused by conditions other than dementia. Another condition may be likely if memory loss occurs without any other signs of dementia. Occasional trouble with memory (such as briefly forgetting someone’s name) can be a normal part of aging, although all memory loss should be evaluated by a health professional.
Depression, delirium, and seizures are among the conditions that can cause memory loss. Depression can cause other symptoms similar to those of dementia, such as confusion and disorientation.
Alzheimer’s disease is a condition in which nerve cells in the brain die, making it difficult for the brain’s signals to be transmitted properly. A person with Alzheimer’s disease has problems with memory, judgment, and thinking, which makes it hard for the person to work or take part in day-to-day life. The death of the nerve cells occurs gradually over a period of years.
Once thought to be rare, Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia.
What Are the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?
Most patients’ symptoms progress slowly over a number of years. Symptoms may not be noticed early on. Sometimes, it is only when family members look back that they realize when the changes started to occur.
Common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
How Is It Diagnosed?
It is important to visit a doctor if you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms so you can receive the proper evaluation and diagnosis. There are other conditions — such as depression, a head injury, certain chemical imbalances, or the effects of some medications –that can produce symptoms that are similar to Alzheimer’s disease. Many of these conditions are treatable.
Your doctor can only determine if the symptoms are probably due to Alzheimer’s disease after a thorough medical, psychiatric, and neurological evaluation. He will evaluate other possible causes of dementia to rule out all other factors before settling on Alzheimer’s disease as a diagnosis.
Currently, no definitive diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s exists. A definite diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is possible only after death, when a pathologist can more closely examine a patient’s brain for the telltale changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
What’s the Prognosis?
The course of Alzheimer’s disease varies widely from person to person. The duration of the illness could be short (2-3 years) or long (up to 20 years). Usually the parts of the brain that control memory and thinking are affected first, but over time, cells die in other areas of the brain.
Eventually, a person with Alzheimer’s will need complete care. If the person has no other serious illnesses, the loss of brain function itself will eventually cause death.
Can Alzheimer’s Disease be Prevented?
Because the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not known, there is currently nothing that can be done to prevent it. It is important to remember, however, that there are causes of dementia other than Alzheimer’s disease that may be preventable such as eating properly, exercising, quitting smoking, and limiting how much alcohol you drink. Your doctor can advise you about other healthy lifestyle habits you can adopt that may help prevent dementia.
Doctors have categorized Alzheimer’s into the following types:
Younger people who develop Alzheimer’s disease have more of the brain abnormalities that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Early onset Alzheimer’s appears to be linked with a genetic defect on chromosome 14, to which late-onset Alzheimer’s is not linked. A condition called myoclonus — muscle twitching and spasm — also is more commonly seen in early onset Alzheimer’s than in late-onset Alzheimer’s.