About Dementia

Dementia refers to a loss in cognitive functioning that impacts a person’s abilities to complete daily activities.

If you or a family member are experiencing possible symptoms of dementia, it’s important to contact a medical professional for evaluation. A doctor will review your medical history and symptoms and run tests to assist in diagnosis. In addition, an individual must meet certain criteria, such as impaired language, judgment, attention, functioning and more, to be diagnosed.

There are various types of dementia, with some being more common than others. Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia, accounting for 60 to 70 percent of all cases. People are affected by dementia differently, and it’s important to understand the condition if you, or a family member or friend, have been diagnosed.

About Dementia

Individuals with dementia may struggle to complete daily activities such as cooking meals, keeping track of belongings and traveling outside of their neighborhood. Some forms of dementia are progressive, meaning symptoms worsen over time. In some cases, dementia may be present long before any changes are actually noticed.

If you or a family member are experiencing any signs of dementia it’s important to speak with your doctor. This condition should not be associated with “senility,” or an infirmity people relate to aging. Memory loss is not an expected component of getting older.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms of dementia vary from person to person. However, there are common changes a person or family member may notice if a person does have the condition. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Behavior changes – As the disease progresses, an individual may begin to act out of character.
  • Hallucinations – A person with dementia may experience changes in the way they see the world around them.
  • Sleep disturbances – People with dementia may wake up often throughout the night or experience increased symptoms as dusk approaches, known as “sundowning.”
  • Depression – A person’s emotional well-being and mental health may be altered.
  • Memory loss – Often one of the first signs of dementia, memory loss affects individuals differently and can impact daily activities.
  • Language and communication – A person with dementia may find it difficult to find the right words to use during conversations.

A medical professional will look for two or more of the following functions to be impaired, and negatively impacting a person’s daily life, when diagnosing dementia:

  • Focus and attention
  • Visual perception
  • Communication abilities
  • Judgment and reasoning
  • Memory
  • Disorientation

There are circumstances where a doctor will be able to diagnose an individual with dementia, but unable to determine a specific type. In these situations, a person may be referred to a neurologist for further testing.

Treatment & Care of Dementia

Treatment varies based on the type of dementia a person has and their symptoms. If a person has a progressive form of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, the goal is to slow and lessen symptoms.

Treatment methods for dementia include, but are not limited to:

  • Occupational therapy
  • Vitamins to address a deficiency
  • Depression medication
  • Stopping medicine that may contribute to disorientation

Your doctor may prescribe medication to improve dementia symptoms, such as cholinesterase inhibitors, which help boost memory and judgment.

Types of Dementia

Understanding types of dementia, treatment and causes is important if you or a family member are living with the condition. Below you will learn about the of the most common types of dementia and their differences as you explore supportive care options.

Alzheimer’s Disease

The most common type of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, is progressive and incurable. Typically, an individual will begin experiencing symptoms after the age of 60. However, the disease is often present long before symptoms are noticeable. Alzheimer’s can take 8 to 10 years to progress to its worst stage. The goal of treatment is to slow this progression.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include memory loss, difficulty solving problems and completing tasks, trouble with writing and misplacing objects. This form of dementia is the sixth leading cause of death among Americans.

Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease

 

 

Dementia with Lewy Bodies

Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is caused by an abnormal buildup of proteins, known as Lewy bodies, in the brain’s cortex. Lewy bodies lead to damage in areas of the brain responsible for functioning. DLB is a progressive form of dementia, and treatment aims to reduce symptoms.

Symptoms of DLB include hallucinations, difficulty walking, sleep and mood changes and memory loss. Lewy bodies can also be present in other brain disorders.

Learn more about Dementia with Lewy bodies

 

 

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease leads to rapid deterioration of thinking and reasoning. This type of dementia causes prion proteins to “misfold,” leading to damage to the brain.

Symptoms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease include depression, anxiety, difficulty swallowing, insomnia, agitation and rapid deterioration of memory.

Learn more about Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

 

 

Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) occurs when brain cells deteriorate in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, leading to loss of brain signals. The only known risk factor of FTD is family history or the presence of a similar disease.

Symptoms of FTD include difficulty concentrating, balance issues, memory loss, speech problems, lack of inhibition and more.

Learn more about frontotemporal dementia

 

 

Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s disease is caused by an aggressive deterioration of nerve cells in the brain, resulting in thinking difficulties and other symptoms. This type of dementia is genetic, meaning each person who has this disease has a 50% chance of passing the gene to the next generation.

Symptoms of Huntington’s disease can appear as early as two, but often appears between the ages of 30 and 50. Increased forgetfulness, mood swings, slurred speech, unsteady gait and involuntary movements are some symptoms of the disease.

Learn more about Huntington’s disease

 

 

Mild Cognitive Dementia

Mild cognitive dementia causes a minor but noticeable decline in cognitive abilities. This type of dementia results from plaque buildup in the brain. Brain and physical changes associated with mild cognitive dementia are often milder than those of dementia.

Symptoms of mild cognitive dementia include increased forgetfulness, difficulty interpreting instructions, depression, anxiety and more.

Learn more about mild cognitive dementia

 

 

Mixed Dementia

Mixed dementia varies widely from person to person. Individuals with mixed dementia have abnormalities linked to more than one form of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia are the most common combination of dementia types, but others exist.

Symptoms of mixed dementia vary based on the areas of the brain affected by dementia.

Learn more about Mixed dementia

 

 

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

Normal pressure hydrocephalus is a progressive form of dementia that causes reasoning and thinking difficulties. This type of dementia results from buildup of cerebrospinal fluid inside the hollow chambers of the brain.

Symptoms of normal pressure hydrocephalus includes memory loss, shuffling gate, loss of bladder control and more.

Learn more about normal pressure hydrocephalus

 

 

Parkinson’s Disease Dementia

Parkinson’s disease dementia affects approximately two percent of adults over the age of 65. This type of dementia often develops with Parkinson’s disease and leads to impairment in thinking and reasoning.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease dementia include muffled speech, irritability, anxiety, visual hallucinations and more.

Learn more about Parkinson’s disease dementia

 

 

Posterior Cortical Atrophy

Posterior cortical atrophy, also known as Benson’s syndrome, is caused by damage to the posterior cortex. While posterior cortical atrophy is considered a specific form of dementia, it may be an offset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Symptoms of posterior cortical atrophy include difficulty judging distances or reading text, frequent disorientation, difficulty using common objects and more.

Learn more about posterior cortical atrophy

 

 

Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia can result from a stroke, meaning symptoms may appear suddenly. Specifically, this form of dementia occurs when there is inadequate blood flow to the brain. Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia.

Symptoms of vascular dementia include disorientation, vision problems and confusion. Depending on which area of the brain is affected by insufficient blood flow, memory loss may also occur.

Learn more about vascular dementia

 

 

Learn More About Dementia

At Tessera of Brandon, we pride ourselves on providing superior care for individuals with dementia-related impairments. That’s why we specialize in Brandon memory care and provide residents a comfortable and safe environment. Contact us to learn more about our community or to schedule a tour.

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