What is Dementia

Types, Symptoms, and Management

What is Dementia

Dementia is defined by the National Institute of Health as: the loss of cognitive functioning (thinking, remembering, reasoning and behavioral abilities) to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. These functions can include: memory, language skills, visual perception, problem solving, self-management, the ability to focus or pay attention, and the ability to control emotion and impulse.

What are the Different Types of Dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of conditions which cause changes and damage to the brain. Neurodegenerative disorders result in a progressive and irreversible loss of neurons and brain functioning. Currently, there are no cures for these types of disorders

Alzheimer’s Disease

What is Dementia

AD is the most commonly heard of diagnosis. Although a true cause it not currently known, brains of people with AD are found to have small abnormalities. The so-called, amyloid plaques and tau tangles, formed in the brain and found in specific locations throughout, are two distinguishing hallmarks of Alzheimer’s Disease Dementia.

Symptoms: AD begins slowly, it first involves the parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language. Over time, symptoms get worse. People may not recognize family members or have trouble speaking, reading or writing. They may forget how to brush their teeth or comb their hair. Later on, they may become anxious or aggressive, or wander away from home. Eventually, they need total care.

Frontal Temporal Dementia

What is Dementia

Also known as FTD, frontotemporal degeneration or Pick’s disease, is the most common dementia diagnosed before age 60. FTD is actually a group of diseases affecting the same brain regions. These include behavioral variant FTD, primary progressive aphasia (PPA), corticobasal degeneration, progressive supranuclear palsy, and FTD/ALS.

Symptoms: FTD brings progressive changes to personality, language, decision making, behavior, disinhibitions, impulsivity, impaired financial decision making, and language problems.

Lewy Body Dementia

What is Dementia

Lewy body dementia is a general term and includes both Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD) (in which Parkinson’s disease is first diagnosed but a year or more later includes dementia) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) (which starts with dementia and is often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease, but may include Parkinson-like symptoms at the time of diagnosis or later).

Symptoms: LBD includes dementia, visual hallucinations and frequent variations in cognitive ability, attention or alertness. There are also changes in walking or movement, as well as a sleep disorder called REM sleep behavior disorder, in which people physically act out their dreams. LBD patients may also have a severe sensitivity to medications prescribed for hallucinations.

Other Types of Progressive Brain Disease

Vascular Dementia

What is Dementia

These are disorders that affect the blood circulation in your brain. Proper control of blood pressure or vascular issues improves outcomes with this type of dementia.

Symptoms: Impaired judgment, decreased apathy, urinary changes, changes or difficulty with motor skills which may affect balance.

Normal-Pressure Hydrocephalus

What is Dementia

NPH is caused by an abnormal build-up of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles (cavities or spaces) of the brain. When people have NPH, they have an excess of cerebrospinal fluid because their bodies cannot properly drain and absorb the fluid, but the pressure in their brain remains normal.

Shunt surgery, which delivers cerebrospinal fluid from the head to the abdomen or heart, may help these symptoms.

Symptoms: This condition can cause walking problems including difficulty picking up your feet, shuffling, freezing, problems with bladder control trouble paying attention, short memory loss and changes in mood.

Questions?

If you are still asking yourself, “What is Dementia?,” or if you have any questions about caring for your loved one with Dementia, contact us today!