Page 27 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - August 2018 -25-08
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Senior Times - August 2018 Page 27
EXPLAINING DEMENTIA
By: Sherii Sherban, Publisher
Dementia is not a specific disease but rath- er it describes a group of symptoms that may accompany certain diseases or conditions.
Dementia is a general term that indicates a loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with activities of daily living. It is caused by physical changes in the brain that may result from a variety of different causes.
Dementia is not a normal part of aging. Some times dementia symptoms are reversible, especial- ly when they are caused by conditions resulting from depression, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid problems, medications, infection, loss of oxygen to the brain, traumatic brain injury, and more. If you recognize moments where your memory seems challenged, an evaluation is the best first option. The sooner you can identify the cause of the symptoms, the sooner you can start feeling bet- ter. Or possibly, identify ways to slow down the progression.
The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which comprises 60-80%
of cases. The person with Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by a loss of function and death of nerve cells in several areas of the brain. This loss of function leads to a loss of independence as it relates to activities of daily living such as cooking, driving, money management, or more basic daily activities like dressing and hygiene. Ultimately, it can lead to the loss of mental functions, such as memory and learning. There is no known cure but there is increasing evidence that they are things that we can do that may prevent or slow the pro- gression of the disease.
The person with Alzheimer’s disease may also have difficulty remembering recent conversations, names or events. This is often an early indicator along with apathy and depression. As the disease progresses communication may become impaired, poor judgment may be exhibited, along with
disorientation, confusion, behavior changes, and difficulty walking, speaking, or swallowing. It has been shown that the disease begins to develop years before others recognize symptoms. More information is available at www.alz.org.
Another common type of dementia is vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke. It accounts for nearly 10 percent of the dementia cases. This type of dementia occurs because of a blood vessel blockage or damage that leads to a stroke or bleed- ing in the brain. The amount of damage deter- mines how the individual’s physical functioning or thinking may be affected. Initial symptoms appear more abruptly and become more noticeable in a short period of time. Vascular dementia is more common in men than women and may include impaired judgment or ability to make decisions, plan, or organize, rather than memory loss. More information is available at www.stroke.org.
Lewy Body dementia is characterized by fluc- tuations in alertness and attention, recurrent visual hallucinations, and Parkinsonian motor symptoms like rigidity and the loss of spontaneous movement as well as a shuffling gait and tremors. In this disorder, cognitive problems such as hallucina- tions tend to occur much earlier in the course of the disease and often precede the difficulties with walking and motor control. Lewy Bodies dementia can also exhibit as thinking problems as well as memory loss. It can be confused with Parkinson’s
disease. More information is available on Lewy Body dementia at www.lbda.org.
There is a relationship between Parkinson’s disease and dementia. Dementia is a less com- mon feature of Parkinson’s disease. A number
of people with Parkinson’s disease will develop Parkinson’s disease dementia, but not all. For those patients with Parkinson’s disease who go on to develop dementia, there can be a 10- to 15-year lag time between their Parkinson’s diagnosis and the onset of dementia according to helpguide.org. Parkinson’s disease dementia is different from a similar disorder, known as Lewy Body dementia (or dementia with Lewy Bodies).
Frontal Lobe dementia is sometimes called Pick’s disease, aphasia, or Frontotemporal dementia. It is marked by changes in personality or behavior such as a lack of inhibition, aggres- siveness, apathy, loss of empathy, etc. Changes
in judgment are subtle at first but can become disabling as the disease progresses. One third of those with this type of dementia have a family his- tory of dementia related disorders. Symptoms may start as early as one’s 40’s and is more common in women. For more details visit www.aftd.org
Pathologic evidence shows that the brain changes of several types of dementia can be present simultaneously. When any two or more types of dementia are present at the same time, the individual is considered to have “mixed dementia.”
Please note that this article only addresses the more common types of dementia.
Miles for Memories is working hard in Calhoun County to provide program for the person with dementia and their caregivers. Our signature event to raise awareness and funds for programs will be September 15 in downtown Battle Creek. Visit us at www.scenepub.com/milesformemories to find out more. Come and join us!
Grand Vista is a place seniors can receive the care and support needed to live fulfilling lives in a home-like environment.
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