What is Dementia?

Sure you could click the link above, but we’re going to (real quick) sum it up for you. Dementia is a group of symptoms brought on by a disease, condition or illness. It’s like a fever where you suffer it, but the fever did not cause itself, there’s an outside influence. In the case of dementia, the cause is one of these many different forms.

Alzheimer’s Disease

This is the most common form dementia and depending on who you talk to, it varies from 60% of all cases to as high as 80%. For good measure, we go with 70%. While some claim that this is a default diagnosis – in other words, what you’re diagnosed with when it cannot possibly be anything else – there are new criteria established for diagnosing this disease and now it’s recommended that doctor’s look into it in three developing stages.

Ultimately, this form of dementia – being the most common – is the cause for many of the more easily recognizable symptoms of dementia (i.e. confusion, mood swings, depression, cognitive impairment, trouble speaking, and memory loss).

You can recognize Alzheimer’s disease (AD) due to plaques and tangles in the brain.

Parkinson’s Disease

This type of dementia affects physical movement, making it difficult for people to perform fine motions to potentially much larger movements. As Parkinson’s progresses, interrupted sleep, sundowning, memory loss and hallucinations are common.

One of the ways doctors recognize Parkinson’s is if alpha-synuclein clumps are found in the substantia nigra part of the human brain.

Huntington’s Disease

This is one of the most important types of dementia to get checked out by a doctor – I mean, if you’re experiencing any symptoms of dementia, you should go to a doctor – but this is one of forms that is hereditary – it simply doesn’t appear until later.

The Huntington disease is caused be a defect in the huntingtin gene (a small section on chromosome four). The gene is absolutely hereditary, but like most forms of dementia, is not noticeable until later in life. If you have a parent or grandparent with this disease, then there’s a good chance you have it, so you should see a doctor!

Vascular Dementia

This type of dementia is perhaps the second most commonly diagnosed form. At one point, it was referred to as post-stroke dementia and multi-infarct dementia.

Vascular dementia hinders the senior’s judgment and depending on the severity can memory loss or impaired movement.

Vascular dementia differs from many other cases in that it is usually brought on by head trauma. Any head injury that leads to internal bleeding can have adverse effects, but that’s all the more reason why vascular dementia is so unpredictable in in its symptoms. Depending on “where” the injury occurs and “how” isolated it is, it could be severe or (possibly) reversible.

For more, check back next week!