What is Dementia and Alzheimers
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- Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia
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What is Dementia and Alzheimer's?
Dementia is the word used to describe a group of symptoms that include difficulties with memory, thinking, problem solving, communication and behaviour. These changes are often insignificant in the beginning but can gradually increase to affect all aspects of daily life.
Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by a number of diseases. The most common of these is Alzheimer's disease but it can also occur as the result of a series of strokes (vascular dementia), due to degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Huntingdon’s, and as a consequence of drugs, metabolic diseases and infections including HIV.
The symptoms that someone with dementia experiences will depend on the area of the brain that has been damaged and the disease that is causing it.
At the moment there is no cure for most causes of dementia, however reducing some risk factors may slow down the degeneration of nerve and brain tissue. This can include controlling high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes and stopping smoking.
There are also important treatable causes, including dementia caused by vitamin and thyroid hormone deficiencies, which can be treated with supplements. Surgery can improve dementia caused by fluid collecting on the brain so it is very important to see a doctor as soon as symptoms are noticed.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia; it is believed to account for Between fifty and seventy percent of all those affected.
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disease with symptoms gradually getting worse over time. The early damage to the brain happens years before the first indications appear. The cause is not fully understood yet but we know that abnormal proteins are deposited in the brain, which disrupt the connections between cells. This causes the brain cells to degenerate and die and in the late stages of Alzheimer’s the brain appears shrunken. These changes result in deterioration in mental function and memory.
At first, someone with Alzheimer's disease may notice memory lapses, difficulty remembering words and mild confusion. Eventually the disease progresses to cause disorientation, inability to care for oneself or remember loved ones.
The Alzheimer’s Association have identified ten features of the disease:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks.
- Confusion with time or place.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
- New problems with words in speaking or writing.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
- Decreased or poor judgment.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities.
- Changes in mood and personality.
Although there's no cure for Alzheimer's disease, it has been shown that getting support early may improve symptoms and help individuals maintain independence and function for longer.
References and Further ResearchHealthline
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