Dementia is an impaired ability to remember, think, and make concise decisions throughout your everyday lives. Many seniors experience dementia in different ways. It can interfere with daily living and can find doing certain activities as a challenge. It commonly affects older adults; however, it can occur in people as young as 50. A more precise definition of the term is the loss of cognitive functioning, It can be caused by damage to or from disruptions of brain cells. One thing is clear, dementia it is not part of any normal aging process. Plus, there are some older adults that are well into their 90s and may not show any signs of dementia.
What Causes Dementia?
There are several causes of dementia and their broken down in two categories: reversible dementias and irreversible dememtias. The list below will share some of the common causes and their meanings. More information about the causes can be found on Dementia.org.
Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus: This is a form of dementia is caused by a build-up of excess cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain. It is known to damage brain tissue and may lead to problems with walking, memory loss, and uncontrolled bladder issues. Hydrocephalus can be reversed. This is possible by draining the excess fluid from the brain, with the help of a surgical implantation of a shunt.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency: An impaired absorption of vitamin B12 can cause something called pernicious anemia, in which the symptoms can mimic dementia. Example of symptoms in pernicious anemia are fatigue, yellowed skin, pica, and shortness of breath, along with confusion and difficulty concentrating.
Thyroid Disease: It happen when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. By using thyroid supplements, the body can reverse the affect of dementia. Thyroid-related dementia could actually affect females up to five times more often than males.
Delirium: This is more common in older adults. It derived from infections or fevers, changing the senior’s state of mind, such as extreme disorientation or confusion. Delirium can be abrupt and sudden.
Tumors: Although uncommon, tumors and cancers in some parts of the brain may damage surrounding tissues and cause dementia. Tumors may cause headaches, vomiting, intracranial pressure, or rapid personality changes. if treated in time or the tumors are removed, dementia symptoms usually subside, reduce, or disappear completely.
Alzheimer’s disease: As mentioned above, it is the leading cause of dementia; resulting in the death of cells within the cerebral cortex. Some seniors can live10 to 20 years with Alzheimer’s.
Parkinson’s Disease: Although a concrete reason for Parkinson’s is not yet determined, many scientists or researchers believe it has similar components of dementia. Such as killing off nerve cells in the substantia nigra region of the brain. Some research shows that approximately 50-80% of Parkinson’s sufferers develop dementia.
Vascular Dementia: When there is a blockage or reduced blood flow to the brain, oxygen and certain nutrients will find it difficult to enter the brain. This can cause vascular dementia. It is believed to be the second most common cause for dementia, after Alzheimer’s disease.
Huntington’s Disease: This disease provides genetic markers, which can be characterized by a mutation on the fourth chromosome, resulting in the death of nerve cells.
Lewy-Body Dementia: Lewy-Body is another common form of dementia and is a brain disorder, resulting in similar conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. It is an irreversible effect that causes cognitive decline and movement problems. Those with Lewy-Body Dementia usually has no family history of the condition.
How does Dementia effects the body?
For some, dementia prevents the ability to control their emotions, personalities, and may change their mood as well. There are different levels of dementia. Some are mild, in which the affected individual may only present a few symptoms. However, those with severe cases of dementia must rely of family members or caregivers for even their basic needs.
The Seven Stages of Dementia
Stage 1: No Cognitive Decline
Most seniors in this stage normally do not exhibit any significant issues with their memory or cognitive impairments. In fact, the first three stages of dementia is often called the “pre-dementia” stages.
Stage 2: Age Associated Memory Impairment
An occasional lapses of memory are common in this stage. It occurs more frequently with forgetting where one has placed an object or forgetting the names of those who once were familiar to them.
Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Impairment
It is in this stage that cognitive problems are being recognized by the caregiver or family member. Some signs may include:
- Getting lost easily
- Difficulty concentrating
- Forgetting the names of family members and close friends
- Noticeably poor performance at work
- Forgetting the names of family members and close friends
- Difficulty retaining information read in a book or passage
- Losing or misplacing important objects
Stage 4: Mild Dementia
By stage 4, most seniors will start to become socially withdrawn and may show signs of personality changes or mood. Denial of these symptoms is common. Seniors may also become defensive when denying the symptoms.
Stage 5: Moderate Dementia
In this stage, seniors will need help to do basic tasks in their everyday lives. most stage 5 patients will show signs such as the inability to remember major details, like the names of family members or a home address. By now, some seniors will live in memory care facilities.
Stage 6: Moderately Severe Dementia
Seniors are prone to forget names of their children, spouse, or even their primary caregivers. By stage 6, they will need full time care. Caregivers and loved ones should be aware of these signs of dementis in stage 6:
- Delusional behavior
- Obsessive behavior and symptoms
- Anxiety, aggression, and agitation
- Loss of willpower
Stage 7: Severe Dementia
Stage 7 is the most heart wrenching to witness. It is when the brain loses its connection with the body. Seniors will have problems with verbal and speech abilities. Those going through this stage will need help with walking, eating, and using the bathroom.
What are the differences between Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia?
There’s an old analogy that asks, “What came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, to help explain the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, you need to know that the disease is actually a form of Dementia. So, we can honestly state that Dementia existed before Alzheimer’s disease; although, the term dementia itself was not coined to after Alzheimer’s disease was discovered. To clarify the differences even more, Alzheimer’s disease is a more specific term, whereas Dementia is generalized.