What Is Dementia

Dementia is NOT Normal Aging



50 MILLION People are Living with Dementia
Someone in the world develops dementia every 3 seconds. There were an estimated 46.8 million people worldwide living with dementia in 2015 and this number is believed to be close to 50 million people in 2017. This number will almost double every 20 years, reaching 75 million in 2030 and 131.5 million in 2050. Much of the increase will be in developing countries. Already 58% of people with dementia live in low and middle income countries, but by 2050 this will rise to 68%. The fastest growth in the elderly population is taking place in China, India, and their south Asian and western Pacific neighbours. (Alzheimer’s Disease International)

5.7 MILLION People are Living with Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia among older adults. 5.7 million Americans are estimated to be living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2018. It is the fifth leading cause of death for adults aged 65 years and older, and the sixth leading cause of death for all adults. Alzheimer’s disease involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language, and, over time, can seriously affect a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. Although the cause is still unknown, scientists are learning more every day about Alzheimer’s disease and what can be done to prevent and treat this fatal illness. (Center for Disease Control)

10 Early Warning Signs of Dementia

1 Memory loss for recent or new information – repeats self frequently

2 Difficulty doing familiar, but difficult tasks – managing money, medications, driving

3 Problems with word finding, mis-naming or misunderstanding

4 Getting confused about time or place – getting lost while driving, missing several appointments

5 Worsening judgement – not thinking things through like before

6 Difficulty problem solving or reasoning             

7 Misplacing things – putting them in ‘odd places’

9 Changes in typical personality                                

10 Loss of initiation – withdraws from normal patterns of activities and interests


Dementia is Brain Failure

Dementia is most often thought of as a memory disorder, an illness of the aging mind. In its initial stages, that’s true — memory loss is an early hallmark of dementia. But experts in the field say dementia is more accurately defined as fatal brain failure: a terminal disease, like cancer, that physically kills patients, not simply a mental ailment that accompanies older age. (Time)

Dementia is a broad category of brain diseases that cause a long-term and often gradual decrease in the ability to think and remember that is severe enough to affect daily functioning.  Other common symptoms include emotional problems, difficulties with language, and a decrease in motivation. Consciousness is usually not affected.  A dementia diagnosis requires a change from a person’s usual mental functioning and a greater decline than one would expect due to aging. These diseases have a significant effect on caregivers.  (Wikipedia)

Types of Dementia

Dementia is a group of diseases with symptoms, which affect the way people think and interact with each other. It can often be linked to a disease or damage done to the brain. Very often, short-time memory, mind, speech and motor skills are affected. (Wikipedia)

  • Alzheimer’s – accounts for 50% to 70% of cases of dementia.  The most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are short-term memory loss and word-finding difficulties. Trouble with visual-spatial processing (for example, they may begin to get lost often), reasoning, judgment and insight fail. Insight refers to whether or not the person realizes they have memory problems. Common early symptoms of Alzheimer’s include repetition, getting lost, difficulties tracking bills, problems with cooking especially new or complicated meals, forgetting to take medication and word-finding problems.  The part of the brain most affected by Alzheimer’s is the hippocampus. Other parts that show atrophy (shrinking) include the temporal and parietal lobes. Although this pattern suggests Alzheimer’s, the brain shrinkage in Alzheimer’s disease is variable, and a brain scan is not sufficient for diagnosis.   
  • Vascular Dementia –  is the cause of at least 20% of dementia cases, making it the second most common cause.  It is caused by disease or injury affecting the blood supply to the brain, typically involving a series of minor strokes. The symptoms of this dementia depend on where in the brain the strokes occurred and whether the vessels are large or small.  Multiple injuries can cause progressive dementia over time, while a single injury located in an area critical for cognition (i.e. hippocampus, thalamus) can lead to sudden cognitive decline.  People with vascular dementia tend to have risk factors for disease of the blood vessels, such as tobacco use, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, high cholesterol or diabetes, or other signs of vascular disease such as a previous heart attack or angina.
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies –  DLB, also known as Lewy body dementia, is caused by protein deposits in nerve cells. This interrupts chemical messages in the brain and causes memory loss and disorientation.People with this type of dementia also experience visual hallucinations and have trouble falling asleep at night or fall asleep unexpectedly during the day. They also might faint or become lost or disoriented.  
  • Frontotemporal Dementia – (FTDs) are characterized by drastic personality changes and language difficulties. In all FTDs, the person has a relatively early social withdrawal and early lack of insight. Memory problems are not a main feature.  There are six main types of FTD. The first has major symptoms in personality and behavior. This is called behavioral variant FTD (bv-FTD) and is the most common. In bv-FTD, the person shows a change in personal hygiene; becomes rigid in their thinking, and rarely acknowledges problems; they are socially withdrawn; and often have a drastic increase in appetite. They may become socially inappropriate. For example, they may make inappropriate sexual comments, or may begin using pornography openly. One of the most common signs is apathy, or not caring about anything. Apathy, however, is a common symptom in many dementias.   FTD accounts for 20% of young-onset dementia cases.  Signs and symptoms typically manifest in late adulthood, more commonly between the ages of 45 and 65, approximately equally affecting men and women.  Common signs and symptoms include significant changes in social and personal behavior, apathy, blunting of emotions, and deficits in both expressive and receptive language. Currently, there is no cure for FTD, but there are treatments that help alleviate symptoms.  
  • Parkinson”s Disease – or simply Parkinson’s, is a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system.  As the disease worsens, non-motor symptoms become more common.  The symptoms usually emerge slowly.  Early in the disease, the most obvious symptoms are shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking. Thinking and behavioral problems may also occur.  Dementia becomes common in the advanced stages of the disease.  Depression and anxiety are also common, occurring in more than a third of people with PD.  Other symptoms include sensory, sleep, and emotional problems.  
  • Progressive Supranuclear Palsy – (PSP) is a degenerative disease involving the gradual deterioration and death of specific volumes of the brain.[1] The condition leads to symptoms including loss of balance, slowing of movement, difficulty moving the eyes, and dementia.  PSP may be mistaken for other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The cause of the condition is uncertain, but involves accumulation of tau protein within the brain. Medications such as levodopa and amantadine may be useful in some cases.  PSP affects about six people per 100,000.  The first symptoms typically occur in persons aged 60–70 years. Males are slightly more likely to be affected than females.  
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome – (WKS) is the combined presence of Wernicke encephalopathy (WE) and alcoholic Korsakoff syndrome. Due to the close relationship between these two disorders, people with either are usually diagnosed with WKS as a single syndrome. The cause of the disorder is thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, which can cause a range of disorders including beriberi, Wernicke encephalopathy, and alcoholic Korsakoff syndrome. These disorders may manifest together or separately. WKS is usually secondary to alcohol abuse. It mainly causes vision changes, ataxia and impaired memory  Wernicke encephalopathy and WKS are most commonly seen in people who are alcoholic. Failure in diagnosis of WE and thus treatment of the disease leads to death in approximately 20% of cases, while 75% are left with permanent brain damage associated with WKS.  Of those affected, 25% require long-term institutionalization in order to receive effective care.  

There are several types of dementia that you can review at Wikipedia.

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