People tend to think of dementia as a specific disease or condition, but it is actually a generalized term for the diminished ability to think, make decisions, or remember. The severity of the impact is generally dependent on the type of disease that is causing dementia and the progression.
It is important to note that while the decline of cognitive abilities is normal with old age, dementia is not a part of normal aging. There is currently no cure but there are ways of preventing, deterring, and slowing down the progression of symptoms. In this article, we will explore four of the main types of dementia experienced by individuals and what are their impacts.
As the leading form of dementia, around 60 to 80 percent of diagnoses related to dementia are all for Alzheimer’s disease. The common symptoms are memory loss, vision loss, agitation, difficulty with verbal communication, and more. Different people will experience a different set of symptoms but will generally develop memory impairment that will grow more severe and worsen over time. While the cause for Alzheimer’s is not known, tangles of protein and plaques have been commonly found in the brains of individuals who experience Alzheimer’s. Researchers hypothesize that it is probably caused by a set of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that will cause changes to the brain over the long term.
Even though there is no proven cure for Alzheimer’s, there have been medications that can slow down the cognitive decline or temporarily reduce the impact of symptoms. By having a steady intake of these treatment options, it is possible to maintain a greater degree of independence than without.
This is caused when there is blocked or reduced blood flow to the brain. This can lead to damage in the brain cells or even cell death. Cognitive changes that occur as a result of vascular dementia can present themselves suddenly following the trigger incident. This is the second most common type of dementia, but memory loss is not always a significant symptom. The main issue that is associated with this form of dementia is blood vessel and brain damage, leading to issues like confusion and troubles concentrating, communicating, and planning.
Lewy Body Dementia
This is a form of progressive dementia that is identified by having abnormal clumps of protein within the brain. This happens when deposits of protein accumulate on nerve cells located in the brain stem leading to symptoms like tremors, behavioral issues, memory loss, and muscle rigidity. An additional symptom is that people with Lewy body dementia are also prone to having problems with movement and posture. Medication can help to reduce sleep difficulties and slow down cognitive decline but there are no treatments as of now that can address the brain cell damage.
Caring for loved ones with dementia, especially in the later stages can be extremely tiring and stressful. This is largely due to the fact that most caregivers are not medically trained and do not have access to the right strategies and information. One of the best ways to ensure that your loved one gets the care that they need is to consider a placement in an assisted living community or memory care community. For more information on how we can help you and your loved ones, contact us today and our friendly senior lifestyle coordinators will be able to answer any questions you have.